Craving legitimate information - Digital Threat Digest
PGI’s Digital Investigations Team brings you the Digital Threat Digest, SOCMINT and OSINT insights into disinformation, influence operations, and online harms.
I’ve noticed I’ve been consuming increasing amounts of breaking news content from accounts named ‘Pop Crave’ and ‘Pop Base’. These accounts have built significant followings from breaking celebrity and pop culture news but have begun to pivot, attempting to position themselves as a trusted source for political news. The political pivot began post-2020, as the accounts began updating their celebrity-obsessed users on the presidential election, Supreme Court rulings and now the candidates for the 2024 election. Pop Base broke the news that Donald Trump would be indicted for the third time before the official announcements were made by the traditional media.
As an OSINT investigator, I always caution people to look deeper into the source of their news, who is sharing it, why are they sharing it and what narrative they trying to advance. However, without realising it, I had been consuming political and economic news from sources that market themselves as entertainment. A deep dive into these accounts by Vox articulated my thoughts perfectly - ‘Why does it seem like I’m learning more breaking news from Pop Crave before anyone else’.
Accounts like this are ‘culture aggregators’ which act as a cog in the larger machine of the online information ecosystem, allowing rumours and unverified sources to translate into the mainstream media. This is exactly the role that Pop Crave was criticised for in August, where the account played a part in incorrectly reporting the death of young rapper, Lil Tay. The false story made its way into the mainstream, forcing more prestigious and traditional news organisations to correct their stories after it was revealed the 16-year-old was alive.
These accounts have power and—unchecked—are able to pump out unverified and misinformation, further contributing to decreasing levels of media literacy. The continued and sustained reliance on these types of accounts for breaking news is dangerous, not just for their audience, but for the precedent it sets within the information environment.
More about Protection Group International's Digital Investigations
Our Digital Investigations Analysts combine modern exploitative technology with deep human analytical expertise that covers the social media platforms themselves and the behaviours and the intents of those who use them. Our experienced analyst team have a deep understanding of how various threat groups use social media and follow a three-pronged approach focused on content, behaviour and infrastructure to assess and substantiate threat landscapes.
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