October 17, 2017 Last Updated 7:33 am

Roy Moore gets temporary boost in followers as Russian bots join race for Alabama Senate seat

Morning Brief: Madrid judge jails two Catalan separatist leaders, drawing new protests and calls for strikes, as regional leaders refuses to answer prime ministers call to clarify declaration of independence status

For any candidate running for office today in the US, getting endorsements, especially the right endorsements, can make all the difference between winning their race and being an also ran. But some endorsements can be seen as a negative, or at least they used to be seen as a negative. Take, for instance, the endorsement of former KKK grand wizard David Duke. He came out for Donald Trump and the press immediately asked the candidate if he would reject it — he didn’t at first and the election became very much about race more than policy.

In Alabama, Republican candidate Roy Moore is expected to easily defeat his Democratic opponent Doug Jones. Polls show Jones within ten points, but few give Jones much of a chance, and the Democratic Party appears hesitant to throw money into a race it likely sees as a long shot.

Still, some supporters of Moore are taking no chances, like the Russian troll farms, which flooded Moore’s accounts with new followers, driving up Moore’s list of followers over 47,000 before Twitter deleted many of them. But many more continued to “follow” Moore to the point that Moore, who only follows a hand full of accounts himself, now has pages of followers, many of whom have accounts created so quickly that they have typos even in their names.

Montgomery Advertiser, Brian Lyman:

Russian invasion? Roy Moore sees spike in Twitter followers from land of Putin

We had absolutely nothing to do with this,” said Drew Messer, a spokesman for the campaign, on Monday. “We’ve never purchased followers or dummy ads on Twitter. We’ve asked Twitter to look into this.”

The increase helped push Moore’s following on Twitter from about 27,000 accounts on Friday to over 47,000, ahead of Democratic nominee Doug Jones, who has about 39,000 followers on Twitter.

Many of the new followers for Moore appear to be bots, with only a handful of followers and generic profile art, including photos of singer Avril Lavigne. A look at five of the accounts early Monday afternoon showed no postings promoting the former Alabama chief justice or his campaign.

AL.com, Howard Koplowitz:

Russian Twitter bots invade Roy Moore’s account; Senate candidate blames Doug Jones, Dems

Without evidence, the campaign pointed the finger at his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.

The Moore campaign said it learned about the spike in followers over the weekend and confirmed that 1,000 of the fake accounts were Russian, but said it received media calls about the incident before it could “begin to review and take action on this matter.”

A Moore spokeswoman said that raised suspicions that Jones or Democratic sources were behind the incident.

“We highly doubt that reporters across the country spend most of their free time on Sunday breaking away from church, family, and football to review the Twitter followers of various candidates across the country,” the campaign said. “It is more likely that Doug Jones and Democrat operatives are pulling a political stunt on Twitter and alerting their friends in the media. It’s not surprising that they’d choose the favorite topic of MSNBC and the Fake News outlets – the Russia conspiracy. Democrats can’t win this election on the issues and their desperation is on full display.”



Things continue to spiral out of control in Catalunya as the Spanish government jailed two separatist leaders yesterday.

While the Madrid government has shown no reluctance to use violence to suppress Catalan independence supports, the Catalans themselves continue to advocate for nonviolent resistance. This situation, however, cannot last. Catalonia leaders have hoped that the sight of Spanish police attacking demonstrators would convince EU leaders to support at least talks between the parties. But EU leaders show no signs that they will lessen their support for Spain’s right-wing government, only encouraging Prime Minister Marian Rajoy to crackdown further, including implementing Article 155 which would end Catalan regional self-rule and effectively put Catalunya under Spanish police administration.

US News & World Report, AP:

New Protests After Secession Leaders Jailed

A Madrid judge on Monday provisionally jailed Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leaders of grassroots organizations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural. The judge ruled they were the orchestrators of massive demonstrations Sept. 20-21 in Barcelona that hindered a police operation against preparations for the Oct. 1 independence referendum.

Protests have been called at midday Tuesday in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, and an evening demonstration is also planned. Some 500 students left classrooms in one of Barcelona’s main universities to join the demonstrations.

Catalan News, ACN:

Calls for indefinite general strike intensify as crisis escalates

he president of the left-wing parliamentary group CUP, Mireia Boya, has defended the call for an indefinite general strike after the imprisonment of the leaders of pro-independence organizations ANC and Omnium Cultural, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart.

In response to the arrests, at noon on Tuesday hundreds of employees from businesses across Catalonia stopped working for 15 minutes in a display of solidarity and indignation at the latest developments in this ongoing political crisis.

All activity in the Barcelona City Council and Catalan parliament has also been suspended briefly in protest to the decision made by the Spanish prosecutor.



There continues to be no shortage of VC money willing to support digital media start-ups, so long as they are not involved with the publishing side of things. Yes, it does remind me of the late nineties, with so much money chasing so little profits. One would think that it couldn’t last.

But fueling the investments is the huge pool of money from the wealthy who have few places to park it. More and more of the nation’s wealth is being concentrated into just a few hands, and with interest rates so low many believe that they can take a chance on these start-ups.

TubeFilter, Jessica Klein:

Video Distribution Startup Zype Raises $4.9 Million in Series A

Zype, a three-year-old startup that lets publishers distribute and monetize their own video content, has raised $4.9 million in a Series A funding round.

Runa Capital led the funding round, which also included previous investors Revel Partners, Alpine Meridian Ventures, Point Nine Capital, and Entrepreneurs Investment Fund. The latest round brings Zype’s total cash raised to $8.5 million and comes at the end of a year in which Zype’s customer growth went up by over 200%.

Atlanta Business Chronicle, Urvaksh Karkaria:

Atlanta video technology firm onQ raises $7 million

Atlanta technology firm onQ has raised $7 million from a group of undisclosed angel investors. OnQ bills its technology, which includes machine learning and analytics, as the “next evolution” of video.

“It turns dead, static, video into an interactive, conversational experience,” CEO Jim Marshall said. “Our software can go into both the enterprise and viral space and will have a profound impact. It’s no different than when silent films became ‘talkies.’”

Photo: Protesto Barcelona by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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