People think Netflix is using fake accounts to spread viral memes about 'Bird Box,' but there's no evidence that's true

NetflixSandra Bullock in ‘Bird Box.’
  • There’s a theory that Netflix is using bot accounts to spread memes about its new movie “Bird Box,” starring Sandra Bullock.
  • There’s no evidence that’s true.
  • The theory is premised on many of the viral tweets coming from accounts with few followers.
  • It’s more likely the users are simply students home from break and watching Netflix all day.

Since “Bird Box” was released on Netflix on December 21, Twitter has been flooded with memes about the movie.

The film is about a character played by Sandra Bullock navigating through a haunted forest while blindfolded, so there are a lot of jokes about characters not being totally aware of their surroundings.

But to some people, the hype seems fake. One journalist alleged that Netflix is using fake accounts, stealing photos from children to appear real, to spread “Bird Box” memes.

https://twitter.com/samiswine/status/1078506903909523456?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

https://twitter.com/samiswine/status/1078507487479750656?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

The theory went viral, but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Take almost any viral tweet about the movie, and you’ll see that it comes from an account that’s been around for years.

It’s tempting to think that the enthusiasm for “Bird Box” is somehow manufactured. The movie has middling reviews, so some people may find it surprising that there are a lot of people passionate enough about it to make and share memes.

Read more: ‘Bird Box’ is a passable thriller carried by an outstanding performance from Sandra Bullock – here’s what critics are saying

But there’s a more likely explanation: Bored American teens and college students are on break for the holidays, and a lot of people are at home simply watching a lot of Netflix.

“Bird Box” is Netflix’s new big movie that started streaming when most breaks started, and the main demographic that makes memes seems to be watching it.

If you look at the accounts sharing some of the most viral tweets, they tend to tweet a lot of memes – not just about “Bird Box” – and they retweet a lot of memes about school.

And the movie is legitimately popular. According to Netflix, more than 45 million accounts watched the film, the company’s record for seven days of viewership.

It’s true that some of the accounts tweeting memes may be fake, but that’s not something unique to “Bird Box” memes. One strategy bot-makers use to make accounts seem legitimate is copying viral tweets. That way, they get engagement that appears to be organic even when the tweet isn’t theirs.

In fact, the first tweet pointed out in the theory is a rip-off from a tweet that went viral from a regular account.

And the user is alarmed they’re being called a bot.

https://twitter.com/uwurebeca/status/1078576480215478272?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

https://twitter.com/uwurebeca/status/1078605899315347456?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

In an age where bots proliferate through the internet, it’s understandable that people would get paranoid about what’s real and what’s fake. But sometimes, the scandal just isn’t there. People just seem to really like “Bird Box.”

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