Valent Projects

Valent Glossary: The Validator

By valent-projects

At Valent we have created new vocabulary to help understand novel threats online. In our Valent Glossary series, read about the terms you need to know to protect yourself, your brand or your business from online disinformation.

The Validator

A validator is a specific type of online account created for the purpose of artificially increasing the visibility of other accounts (usually seeders). They are responsible for generating and maintaining a network of fake or inauthentic follower accounts. These accounts often have characteristics such as large follower-to-following ratios, stolen or fake profile pictures, and recent creation dates.

But how are they used?

🔴 To provide a follower boost

Validators provide customers, such as the operators of the spreader accounts in this manipulation campaign, with the ability to add more followers to their accounts. By having a substantial number of followers, these accounts appear more influential and legitimate to social media algorithms.

🔴 To deceive social media algorithms

Validators aim to trick social media algorithms, such as those used by Twitter, into treating the accounts they boost as more important or credible. This can lead to increased visibility and reach for the manipulated content, making it appear more popular and trustworthy to other users.

🔴 To boost the impact of a manipulation campaign

Validators play a crucial role in enhancing the reach and impact of manipulative campaigns. By artificially inflating follower counts and engagement metrics, they contribute to the amplification of specific messages, hashtags, or content that aligns with the goals of the campaign.

An example of where we found validators was in our investigation of co-ordinated anti-ULEZ targeting online, which was spotlit by The Guardian and The Rest Is Politics. These accounts were used to validate some of the other accounts spreading misinformation around London mayor Sadiq Khan’s clean air policy.

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