Republican Swarms Twitter with Fake Accounts to Promote Tar Sands Pipeline (+ Top Activism Stories)

Fossil fuel companies are using the same tactics as the tobacco industry once used to keep from losing their massive, incomprehensible profits — lies, lies, and more lies. Their lying is even going beyond words and statistics and are whole processes. This is known as astroturfing. For example, what seems to be an oil industry employee and Republican, as the title says, is creating tons of fake twitter accounts (something too easy to do) to make it look like there’s broad citizen support for the horrible tar sands oil pipeline project, the Keystone XL pipeline, that is on the line right now.

The handful of right-wing supporters of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline are resorting to Astroturf tactics to plead their case. The pipeline, if it garners President Barack Obama’s approval, will transport dangerous tarsands crude from Canada to Texas refineries,” Think Progress reports. “Rainforest Action Network’s Brant Olson has discovered that a Republican operative working on behalf of the Nebraska Energy Forum, a pro-tar sands front group, has created multiple Twitter profiles in order to create the illusion of grassroots support for the toxic pipeline.” Nice. Way to help the world… NOT.

Here’s more from RAN:

The office of a former Nebraska Senator working for the American Petroleum Institute appears to have set up more than a dozen fake Twitter accounts to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline.

Followers of the #tarsands hashtag on Twitter may have noticed a strange spike in posts yesterday morning. Within three minutes, fifteen accounts (here’s the listthe list has since grown) all posted the message “#tarsands the truth is out! [link]” linking to API’s web page about oil sands. Then came another post from the same accounts, this time linking to theNebraska Energy Forum, one of 26 state-based-front-groups sponsored by API in the lead up to the 2012 election. Then a flurry of posts late last night from those same accounts, all linking to a post on “” touting KeystoneXL and linking back to the Nebraska Energy Forum.

WTF? Let’s connect the dots.

First, fourteen of those accounts are clearly fake. The simultaneous posts were all sent via the “Netvibes Official Widget” that allows users to post to multiple Twitter accounts at the same time. All fourteen accounts were established in the same week in July, most on the same day. Each of their avatars appear to have been pulled from the web. One was pulled from All use variations on very simple names (jimjohnson16, richhoward1) and have very similar “everyperson” type descriptions (“Environmentally and economically concerned citizen looking for real facts. We need to make wise choices in during these uncertain times [sic]“), and all tend to retweet one another, bombard journalists with favorable opinions on the KeystoneXL pipeline, and generally cheerlead for tar sands.

The fifteenth account is kbockmann aka Keith Bockmann aka kbdank, a party boy from Omaha whoestablished that website on July 15th.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Keith also registered, an Omaha-based law firm.  He describes himself as a paralegal and is a friend of Greg Abboud on Facebook. Greg’s partner at Abboud Law Firm is Chris Abboud, the former Nebraska Senator, whom I presume to be Greg’s brother. Chris, meanwhile, is also a tobacco lobbyist and “Grassroots Coordinator for the Nebraska Energy Forum.” And finally, the maiden name of Greg’s wife appears to be Bockmann (not hard to figure out, but I won’t implicate her with links here).

So to recap: It looks very much like the “grassroots” being coordinated by Chris Abboud are the fabrications of his employee and nephew, Keith Bockmann.

Anyway you get the story… & don’t worry, there will probably be plenty more like this in the months and years to come — this is how companies that hurt the world and their puppet politicians run.

Great work by RAN revealing this story.

Here are some more activism stories from the past week or so:


  1. Bill McKibben: New Pipeline to Challenge Obama’s Promises
  2. BP Protest in the Gulf; The Oil’s Not Gone
  3. Why Cleantech Should Join the Fight Against Tar Sands


  1. Participate in a National Day of Action for Safer Chemicals: Stroller Brigades [August 10, 2011]
  2. 100+ Groups From 23 States File Petition For Drilling and Fracking Chemical Testing, Info


  1. Road to Somewhere: ITDP and David Byrne on Tour for Bike Advocacy
  2. How to become a cycling ‘ambassador’


  1. Famed Astrophysicist In PETA Ad: ‘Maybe Humans Aren’t As Good As We Should Be’
  2. Cruelty to farm animals should come as no surprise


  1. Musicians United for Safe Energy Launch Mega-Concert in San Francisco
  2. Greenpeace Clothing Campaign Calls Out Nike, Adidas, Puma and Others for Their Toxic Ways
  3. On the Sentencing of Tim DeChristopher

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