WASHINGTON – Martha Coakley’s record was attacked in television ads, she was criticized during televised debates, and came under heat for apparently not realizing that Curt Schilling was a pitcher for the Red Sox.
Apparently, she was also the subject of a more stealthy attack via Twitter.
A conservative group in Iowa was behind a viral attack on Coakley during her senate race against Scott Brown, according to a new study by Wellesley College professors that analyzed Twitter activity during the special election.
The authors, Panagiotis Takis Metaxas and Eni Mustafaraj, examined more than 185,000 campaign-related tweets and retweets during the week leading up to the election.
In the course of the research, they found that one of the more active accounts was one that was tied to the American Future Fund, a conservative organization based in Iowa that also ran television ads critical of Coakley. But because messages were done anonymously through a social networking site, it would have been difficult for any voter to tie the messages to the group.
The firm apparently set up nine accounts that sent 929 tweets over the course of about two hours – a method the study refers to as a “Twitter-bomb.” Those messages would have reached about 60,000 people, according to the authors.
The research paper, “From Obscurity to Prominence in Minutes: Political Speech and Real-Time Search,” was presented last week at a conference in Raleigh, N.C. The paper, which won the conference’s Best Paper Award, can be found here.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.