Our Frequently Asked Questions about the Tuiteros de La Patria spam Patria network and why its accounts often end up permanently suspended.
1. Why are Tuiteros de la Patria accounts massively suspended in Venezuela?
A preview: they are not suspended for “being Chavistas”, “defending” Maduro or positioning messages of the Bolivarian Revolution.
When Twitter performs mass suspensions of accounts in the Tuiteros de la Patria network, it does so because it is doing a job that inevitably violates several Twitter rules. In other words, the Tuiteros de La Patria (Homeland Tweeters) are doing something that Twitter does not want them to do, because it considers it platform manipulation.
The Tuiteros de la Patria are Venezuelan Twitter users who post several dozen tweets a day, using the “hashtag of the day” indicated each morning through the account of the Ministry of People’s Power for Communication and Information (MIPPCI) of Venezuela.
The problem with the mass posting of tweets has nothing to do with the topics they push on Twitter (government propaganda tags), but the background behind the promotion of those tags.
Most of the tweets that make up these tags are very low quality content, called spam. Most Tuiteros de La Patria post tweets in bulk, repetitively, but without engaging in any concrete conversation (beyond posting the hashtag, mentions of other accounts and a few slogans).
But besides spam, there is something that makes the Tuiteros de la Patria network that is forbidden by Twitter: the hashtags they push reach the top of the trends because many of the Tuiteros de la Patria are paid with digital cash bonuses assigned through the Patria System for their work, to make those hashtags reach the top of the venezuelan national trending topics. And this happens on a daily basis.
Imagine if any government in the world, regardless of its legitimacy (dictatorship or democracy), performance (good or bad) or political inclination (right or left), invested money in paying people to place propaganda hashtags on a daily basis. It would be using public money to improve its own image from social networks.
Governments have virtually infinite resources to push any campaign they want on social networks, which would crush any other hashtag spontaneously driven by other social and political actors in the country.
It is a coordinated strategy to manipulate the platform and, by using public resources, it is also corruption.
Therefore, this type of practice is prohibited on Twitter. The importance of hashtags must not be manipulated in any way, much less by paying money, so that a hashtag appears to be more important than others that are generated spontaneously.
And that is why so many Tuiteros de la Patria accounts are regularly suspended.
2. What are the Twitter rules and where are they?
The subsection of rules that are generally violated by the Tuiteros de La Patria is the “policy regarding spam and manipulation of the platform”.
3. How many Tuiteros de la Patria accounts have been suspended by Twitter during 2021 and 2020?
According to information analyzed by Cazadores de Fake News, at least 2000 accounts that had characteristics of Tuiteros de La Patria (generation of spam to publish large number of daily tweets with the hashtags proposed by the MIPPCI) were suspended from January to December 2021.
The number of accounts suspended during 2021 could have been much higher and, according to our estimates, around 3,000 Tuiteros de La Patria accounts could have been permanently suspended.
In 2022, we have been able to corroborate that in a two-week period, between January 26 and February 9, Twitter has permanently suspended at least 570 accounts, following a spike in the creation of accounts of the Tuiteros de La Patria network and the resynchronization between the Patria System and the Twitter account of the tweeters.
But the number of accounts actually suspended between January and February 2022 could even double.
4. What Twitter rules are Tuiteros de La Patria violating?
Many Tuiteros de La Patria sync the Twitter account with the Patria System in order to receive payment of money (“achievements”) for posting tweets with these tags. Twitter prohibits this practice in its “Policy regarding spam and platform manipulation”. This is the main reason for the closure of Tuiteros de La Patria accounts, but also the generation of spam.
In order to get such tags to reach hundreds of thousands of tweets per day, Tuiteros de La Patria are incentivized to post several hundred tweets per day. As a result, they tend to retweet a lot and post tweets, quotes and replies, with little or no value.
Doing so breaks another rule: Twitter does not want spam on the social network, it wants users to use the service in an organic, real way on a given topic, something that is the complete opposite of what happens with the hashtags pushed by Tuiteros de La Patria, which are full of spam.
5. What other rules do the Tuiteros de La Patria violate?
There are other violations of Twitter rules that many Tuiteros de La Patria ignore.
It is not allowed to use multiple accounts; many Tuiteros de La Patria manage several accounts, synchronized with different Patria Cards of the same family, e.g.
It also prohibits the creation of new accounts once the previous account has been permanently suspended from the social network. In this way, it limits people who commit infractions on the social network from committing them again.
6. I’m a human Tuitero de La Patria, I’m not a bot. Did Twitter block my account because it thought I was a bot?
The problem is not using bot accounts to drive trends, but using accounts to generate “junk” (spam) content.
Twitter monitors and limits the amount of junk or spam content that is disseminated on the social network. And if a human account commits such an infraction, it is vulnerable to suspension.
You would be doing exactly what spam bot accounts (spambots) are created for: using repetitive content, of little value, to give visibility to a product, a news item, a rumor or, as in the case of the Tuiteros de La Patria, a propaganda trend.
7. Why don’t the programmers of the Patria System contact Twitter to solve the problem of Twitter synchronization with the Patria System?
Because Twitter doesn’t want applications to be used to measure the work of the Tuiteros de La Patria and then reward them with digital cash bonuses, since paying money to boost trends violates its policies against spam and manipulation of the platform.
During the year 2021, Twitter discontinued an application called “App Patria”, through which the Patria System was synchronized with the Twitter accounts of the Tuiteros de La Patria. Through this application, the number of tweets published by each user was quantified and bonuses were paid for the work, based on the number of tweets published.
Twitter’s anti-spam and platform manipulation policies prohibit the payment of incentives to “work” on Twitter. Therefore, the “App Patria” was suspended. Twitter will most likely suspend all apps or bridges that seek to connect both systems.
8. Twitter suspends chavista accounts because it is a right-wing social network?
Twitter suspends accounts that do not comply with its rules and policies, regardless of whether they are left, center or right-wing accounts, close to any government or created by individuals.
On our website there are many reports where you can see examples of other networks of accounts, other than the Tuiteros de La Patria network, that have been restricted or suspended for non-compliance with Twitter rules.
However, there are cases of obvious violations of the Twitter Rules that go unnoticed for many years. Such was the case of the Tuiteros de La Patria network, which operated more or less stably since 2018 and had a substantial drop in number of participating accounts and tweets generated per day since the beginning of 2021, since the suspension of the “Patria App”.
9. Why don’t we go to another network like Mastodon to promote the Tuiteros de La Patria tags and avoid the problem of suspensions on Twitter?
Because, although some Tuiteros de La Patria defend their work by arguing that they are only “defending the revolution” and “sharing government messages”, the practical reason for posting messages with the tag proposed by the MIPPCI is that the propaganda narratives of the Bolivarian government become visible and appear more popular than they really are, in an important, well-known and relevant social network such as Twitter.
With this strategy (which is actually a digital Information Operation), each hashtag indicated by MIPPCI obtains more tweets than any other one promoted by other actors, political or not, from the Venezuelan civil society, the opposition or even Chavismo itself, where citizens who do not charge money participate.
It would not make sense to do it in other networks similar to Twitter but less known, such as Mastodon or Parler, because it would be using a network that few Venezuelans consult to be informed of daily events, to try to make Venezuelan government propaganda visible.
If they did so, at best, the only people who would read the published content would be the Homeland Tweeters themselves.
10. What should I do to become a Tuitero de La Patria and not have my new Twitter accounts suspended?
Read the Twitter rules, especially the section “policy regarding spam and manipulation of the platform”.
And understand that violating any of Twitter’s rules makes accounts vulnerable to permanent suspension, especially:
- Charging to drive trends
- Generating many tweets in a massive way and without content of value.
- Using multiple accounts at the same time
- Create new accounts after Twitter has suspended you from one of your accounts
Cazadores de Fake News investiga a detalle cada caso, mediante la búsqueda y el hallazgo de evidencias forenses digitales en fuentes abiertas. En algunos casos, se usan datos no disponibles en fuentes abiertas con el objetivo de reorientar las investigaciones o recolectar más evidencias.