Today I would like to share with you the results of a manipulation investigation that was recently completed on r/CryptoCurrency and r/CryptoMarkets. Most of the time investigations are handled behind the scenes so the offenders do not learn our tools and methods, and evade them. However, in certain cases like this one I believe it is good to show people what to look out for and the scale of anti-manipulation work we deal with.
SmarterEveryDay did a good series about manipulation on social media. There are videos for YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Reddit was not included but it does face very similar challenges as outlined by the admins here. Most people are well aware of the politically motivated manipulation and there is no shortage of /r/HailCorporate members skeptical of any possible promotional posts on the site. Along the same lines, it's not hard to see the profit motive and value present in manipulating crypto stats, sentiment, and discussion. As you can imagine, this is a lot of work that crypto mods do.
Some of the most intense astroturfing can be found in the threads listed below
- https://np.reddit.com/r/Crypto_Currency_News/comments/cxwt3r/dreamr_helping_you_achieve_your_dream/ (archive)
- https://np.reddit.com/r/CryptoMarkets/comments/co0xb7/brazilian_influencers_went_crazy_over_creation/ (archive)
- https://np.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrencies/comments/c0vbg6/bitmaxio_upgrade_of_volatility_product_with/ (archive)
- https://np.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrencies/comments/a273iw/cova_data_privacy_protocol/ (archive)
- https://np.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/comments/ce9fh2/stp_network_phase_3_of_the_micro_token_offering/ (archive)
Note how this network of accounts comprises most or all of the comments in each post. They will ask each other questions and build out comment chains meant to look organic. If you click on Other Discussions or into their history you will see them doing the same things on various crypto subreddits. Accounts from the Dream network shill all the same projects or companies including Dreamr, Bitmax, Moozicore, Bora, Contentos (COS), Ultra Token, MOAC, STP, COVA, Ontology, Duo, Persona, and OOOBTC. While this is not smoking gun evidence that these projects solicited the Dream network's shilling services, I would not say I have ever seen a legitimate project wrapped up in astroturfing at this level.
If you click into their post history, you will see some of the common signs of inorganic accounts. Some other behaviors and indicators ***ociated with these types of accounts I would like to add:
- Karma farming to byp*** our karma requirements by either begging in /r/freekarma4u or posting agreeable content like "cute cat" in r/aww or "fookin kneelers" in /r/freefolk
- Posting in other crypto subs with little to no moderation
- Zombie accounts: The post history shows a complete change in behavior at a certain point, usually ***ociated with a long gap in posts. This change is typically when the account is sold and begins full time shilling
- Posting in old threads where they won't be downvoted
- Thanks to /u/shimmyjimmy97 's bot Instamod, their flair on CC, CM, and CT is listed as New to Crypto or Bronze (the lowest rank), indicating something is sketchy, especially when the thread is full of users with these flairs. Instamod works by analyzing the crypto subreddit specific karma so their karma farming in r/aww doesn't fool it
Have a look through these accounts before the admins shadowban them. What other red flags stand out to you?
To moderators of other subreddits, if you would like help easily banning this amount of users with a bot or collaborating with the r/CryptoCurrency mod team to fight manipulation and spam, please reach out to me
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