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Teenager Created Fake Political Candidate Account on Twitter, Got it Verified

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I mean, it’s not a good look, no matter how you view it.

In a blow for Twitter’s enhanced election security measures, CNN has this week reported that a teenager was recently able to create a fake political candidate account, using a fake photo, then get it verified by Twitter, adding to the candidate’s legitimacy.

CNN fake candidate profile

As explained by CNN:

“Earlier this month, [Andrew] Walz’s account received a coveted blue checkmark from Twitter as part of the company’s broader push to verify the authenticity of many Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates currently running for office. But there’s just one problem: Walz does not exist. The candidate is the creation of a 17-year-old high school student from upstate New York.

Not great. CNN also offers this rebuke:

“The blue checkmark is a hallmark of Twitter and one that was later copied by Facebook. It is often given to prominent accounts belonging to journalists, politicians, government agencies and businesses. The feature is central to Twitter’s goal of helping users find reliable information on the platform, often from verified newsmakers. The fact that a teenager, using next to no resources, was able to quickly create a fake candidate in his free time and get it verified by Twitter raises questions about the company’s preparedness for handling how the 2020 elections will play out on its platform.”

In further reporting, CNN notes that the mistake may actually lie with Ballotpedia, which Twitter has partnered with to verify political candidate accounts. When setting up the account, the user also submitted info to Ballotpedia, which included filling in a short questionnaire.

That may have lead to Twitter verifying the account based on the info from Ballotpedia – so maybe, it’s not Twitter’s fault at all, and it’s election security measures remain solid. But still, it doesn’t imbue a heap of confidence, especially when well-resourced foreign operatives may also be seeking to influence the vote.

Twitter, as with virtually all social platforms, has been working hard to improve its election security measures in order to ensure voters are not manipulated by misinformation during the 2020 campaign. This latest incident shows that there’s still way to go in that process – while security elements are improving, there are still ways for people to cheat the system, which remains a significant concern. 

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After being contacted by CNN, Twitter removed the profile, while Ballotpedia has also flagged the concern. But it’s frightening that it was so easy to do. 

While improvements have been made, transparency tools added, systems updated, there are still, seemingly, gaps in election security processes that need to be addressed.  

Each incident is a learning opportunity, but more clearly needs to be done to ensure election integrity online.

Socialmediatoday.com

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All Sober’s explosive Facebook growth

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All Sober

Image courtesy All Sober

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

When we look at the data on emerging brands building a community through social media, the numbers show just how difficult it is to achieve growth and authentic engagement. In the past few years, most brands have found that social media marketing is an uphill climb. 

According to a study from DigitalMarketingCommunity.com, the median engagement rate on Facebook for all industries is just 0.06%. However, there are exceptions. When we came upon the new addiction recovery platform All Sober, a site that officially launched in May, we were impressed by its social marketing strategy. We saw a growing, and more importantly, engaged community that was rallying behind a new startup. That initial impression was cemented further when we calculated its engagement. It was hovering just under 10% for the week—166 times the median percentage. 

A deeper dive showed that this was not an anomaly, nor was it the result of bots or fake engagement. This was a true community buzzing around a common passion, which anyone familiar with the digital marketing space will tell you is becoming increasingly rare. Add to that the fact that All Sober’s platform and apps launched less than six months ago, and it became crystal clear that it had tapped into something very special to achieve this level of explosive growth.

Considering how difficult it can be for new brands to stand out on social media (especially Facebook), we wanted to answer an important question: What is All Sober doing that so many others are not? The answer is surprisingly simple. 

What sets All Sober apart is its uncanny ability to elevate human stories and interactions to truly celebrate a very specific audience. Attention is a critical commodity in digital strategy, and the way All Sober has earned this level of lean-in and community participation is by honoring the accomplishments of people in recovery and putting a human face to the achievement of sobriety. For as long as people impacted by addiction have sought out help, the greatest strength of the community has been a strong sense of shared experience. 

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All Sober taps into that spirit and honors the successes of everyone on the platform. Its Facebook page has become a place for people to celebrate their “soberversaries,” cheering them on and inspiring the community to understand recovery is possible.

All Sober’s success is apparent, especially when compared to other, more established names in the space.

For example, on Sept. 9, All Sober had a post go viral entirely on its own—no ad budget was placed behind the content, and it was driven exclusively by the community. Four days later, the post had garnered 718,000 reactions, 45,500 comments and 16.6 million impressions—organically. 

Naturally, this had an impact on the page’s overall engagement for the week. Despite having a fraction of the size of Psychology Today’s Facebook following (7.4 million likes), All Sober (31,000 likes) produced more than triple the engagement of this mental health juggernaut. And while one might think that this is an anomaly caused by a single viral post, All Sober’s outpacing of industry leaders such as Shatterproof (112,000 likes) and In The Rooms (154,000 likes) has been a constant since February 2022. 

The difference-maker is coming in the form of positive content marketing and strategic amplification. Here’s what that looks like in practice.

Whether it’s a month of sobriety or 25 years, there is a sense of hopeful celebration that makes these social platforms a place for participants to engage and chime in with their own victories, stories and tips. This inspirational platform has drawn in massive numbers of people who participate every day on the Facebook page, and it is the driving force behind All Sober’s peerless Facebook engagement rate. 

All Sober, like any new platform, amplifies content in the interest of gaining new, targeted, quality followers for the brand. But what makes its engagement numbers so remarkable is that none of the content itself is boosted. The organic participation makes All Sober a true innovator in the way recovery and sobriety is discussed online. 

“It’s fair to say that most brands, to one degree or another, rely on advertising to help their message stand out,” said John Oates, president of JPO Digital, which works with All Sober’s social media team to grow the brand. “But the normal KPIs with All Sober are starkly better than most other brands that we’ve seen, and I think that is a testament to the quality of the content we’re able to use and the story that the brand is telling.”

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“I feel like many brands neglect the value of true storytelling, of really drilling down on what value you can deliver to the people who are viewing your content. All Sober has leaned into that beautifully, and we’ve been able to build a fever-pitch following as a result.” 

All Sober’s success on Facebook has inspired the organization to replicate that success on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where it can continue to grow large followings with positive messages of shared hope and inspiration.

All Sober was born after its founders, Paul Gayter and Flora Nicholas, experienced the anguish of addiction firsthand. 

“Our loved one’s addiction led us to experience the problems that hundreds of millions of Americans faced daily throughout the addiction-recovery life cycle: searching all over the internet for help and information in times of crisis, for recovery group support, for treatment options, for sober communities and sober life information, and for resources to help them get jobs, among other things,” Nicholas shared.

“During our recovery journey, we recognized that there were major problems at every stage of the addiction and recovery life cycle—that existing solutions for people in need were fragmented, highly specialized, not available on the scale that the problem demands, or nonexistent.”

As a result, Nicholas and Gayter dedicated their lives to changing the narrative and improving the process for people seeking recovery and getting the help they need to navigate addiction. 

“The only way of alleviating the constant search for solutions was to bring together everything that people need and house it all in one platform. That inspired us to create All Sober,” Nicholas added. “And while we have many iterations left to implement, I’m proud to say that we built just that—a one-stop shop for addiction treatment , recovery and sober life.” 

All Sober is spearheading a movement intended to make sustaining and maintaining sobriety accessible to the people who are impacted by the global epidemic of addiction. Gayter, Nicholas and the leadership team understand better than most what people go through and the types of resources they need for sustained success. Those personal experiences are the inspiration behind building this community and platform around hope, sharing resources, and positive engagement. 

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All Sober’s unprecedented social media success is a testament to its ability to tap into the inspiring stories of people who proudly celebrate their sobriety, while offering a forum and a wealth of resources for the hundreds of millions of Americans touched by drug and alcohol addiction.

By ending the stigmas associated with drug and alcohol addiction and embracing the community that understands just how common this disease is, All Sober has found a way to achieve enviable engagement numbers via a welcoming and open forum offering hope to those who need it.

To learn more, visit All Sober or Facebook.com/AllSober.

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