Questions have been raised about the responses to Boris Johnson’s latest Facebook video, which has been commented on by thousands who speak with one voice in their support for the prime minister.
What's going on here then? Facebook ad by Johnson, comments section in unison "Brilliant Boris " then it changes to "Support Boris 100%" - all with similar amounts of likes giving them a boost. Call me cynical but... @mrjamesob @JimMFelton @carolecadwalla @davidschneider pic.twitter.com/TuqchcZyzZ— Myke Grimes (@mykegrimes) October 25, 2019
Less than 24 hours after the prime minister posted his video arguing for an election on December 12, his Facebook feed has been filled with approving comments, many accompanied with multiple union jack emojis.
Some have suggested that the commenters are paid activists or automated accounts – bots – while it has also been explained as a potential bout of internet trolling by Brexit enthusiasts.
The messaging under the Johnson’s video began with dozens of variations on “Supporting Boris 100%”, then moved to “Brilliant Boris”, and then just “WTO”.
More sceptical Facebook users have also given parody responses such as “Supporting Boris 0%”.
Twitter user Myke Grimes posted a video tweet scrolling down the page showing the repetitive effect.
Amid speculation about the origin of the posts, Twitter user Marc Owen Jones analysed 750 of the comments and found that around 23% of those contained the word “brilliant”.
“If indeed the accounts are real, then it’s depressing that people are reduced to parrots, repeating slogans like ‘leave means leave’ and ‘get on with it’,” he said. “On the other hand, bots and fake accounts are capable of repeating simple messages, and simple messages transmit.”
The post has had more than 6,100 comments in 12 hours.
Although there is a prevalent theory that the comments are bot activity, many of the names link through to accounts that appear real.
After a September instance of similarly repetitive posting, Total Politics reported that members of a popular pro-Brexit Facebook page had been organising the comments from genuinely enthusiastic accounts.
“While some of the activity has certainly been jumped on by bots, the majority of the posts appear to be coming from normal Facebook users out to wind up their political opponents,” wrote John Johnston for Total Politics.