Daily Public blogger Alan Bedenko happily admits to sharing his left-of-center perspective on social media.
- Left-wing Twitter users believe they're being targeted
- They say fake accounts are trying to join their online circle
- Social media expert says it's difficult to police those accounts
"There's definitely tribes on Twitter, just as there are sort of in real life," he said.
Bedenko, under his handle @BuffaloPundit, regularly communicates with others who have similar opinions about politics and life in Western New York.
"I don't just follow lefty people, but mostly lefty people and as far as the local ones are concerned, I sort of have a little bit of a knowledge as to who's on the level, where they're coming from, not just literally but figuratively as well," Bedenko said.
These Twitter users have noticed a number of new people joining their online circle. First, Bedenko said there was a proliferation of hard right-wing accounts, difficult to trace back to a specific person. Potentially more subversive, he says he believes someone is pretending to be part of his tribe.
"It was so far out," he said of the account. "It was so much like a caricature of what a liberal sort of sounds like that it sounds like it was sort of a conservative pretending to be a liberal in order to embarrass or hold that person up as being, I don't know, the unhinged left, that sort of thing."
As far as who could be behind the accounts, or the endgame, Bedenko has his suspicions it's politically motivated. Social media expert Jason Mollica said Twitter users purporting to be someone they're not is a dangerous trend and its happening at all levels of politics.
"Despite Twitter and Facebook, Instagram having their best efforts forward, there are still going to be people that try to get around the system, and we continue to see it, not just in election cycles but every day," Mollica said.
He said it can be difficult to legislate or police against these kinds of accounts. Mollica said, in general, it’s up to people to know who they're talking to, consider motivations, and enter the world with a skeptical eye.
"There's really not a solid way to say, ‘this is how we're going to stop it,’ because anyone can say, ‘no I run this account,’ or ‘no, that's not me,’" he said.
Bedenko acknowledged, as he continues to be outspoken on the platform, he'll have to be vigilant as well.
"If you've never heard of the person before and they're making an unusual effort to sort of ingratiate themselves with you for some reason, that's something to be suspicious of," he said. "Especially in an election year."
Spectrum News didn't include the names of the account in question, because it's not clear if they are fake or not. Reporter Ryan Whalen did reach out to the account Bedenko and others suspect is pretending to be a liberal, and this person's answers could best be described as evasive.
The person suggested it was a slow news day, said he or she would only do an interview if the station reported on an unrelated story and even suggested the reporter was a Russian bot since he does not have a blue verification check mark. The account did not, however, provide any supporting evidence of who was behind it.