NS Votes 2013

Anonymous' N.S. election allegations false, says NDP

Nova Scotia's election trail has been filled with swipes from other parties, but on Monday members of the NDP found themselves reacting to accusations of cyberwarfare.

Group says New Democratic Party using paid tweeters to influence voters

The statement from Anonymous alleges the NDP have set up 250 Twitter accounts in government offices, but it does not name any of the handles. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's election trail has been filled with swipes from other parties, but on Monday members of the New Democratic Party found themselves reacting to accusations of cyberwarfare.

An email, purporting to be from the group Anonymous, said the NDP is manipulating an online audience by using paid tweeters and the social media equivalent of robocalls to influence voters.

The statement said the Dalhousie University's social media lab had uncovered evidence that led the activist group into an investigation about the domination of the NDP in the political discussion on Twitter.

"Employing bots and paid tweeters, you are using what are undeniably information and cyberwarfare tactics against the people of Nova Scotia and the denizens of the internet," read the statement from Anonymous.

Anonymous claimed 250 Twitter accounts were created in government offices during the first weekend of the election. It also alleged the NDP were using mass false spam reports against dissenting accounts on different social media sites.

"I saw the allegations, I take them seriously," said NDP president David Wallbridge. "That's absolutely not anything we've done. As opposed to blasts or anything, we are just using social media to get our message out."

Dalhousie University's social media lab said its findings were being distorted.

"We did notice that a lot of accounts are either affiliated with the NDP party or they support the NDP party, which can indicate that it's just a well-organized campaign," said Anatoliy Gruzd of the social media lab. "This is not what we found, simply because we have not done that type of analysis."

The Liberals said they have no evidence of inappropriate online behaviour during this campaign.

"I haven't noticed anything that was unusual since the election started," said Kelly Regan, the Liberal candidate for the electoral district of Bedford.

"Before the election started there was a lot of what I felt was online bullying with people who weren't affiliated, and if people mentioned anything positive about the Liberals, I did see certain people going after them, yes."

The online posting from Anonymous said the group is taking no sides in the election, but also issued a warning, saying it will release evidence if the online actions don't stop in 72 hours.

Elections Nova Scotia said it has received no complaints.


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