- 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.
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.
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.
— RussellMartin (@RussellAMartin) December 26, 2018
— Doodlelie doo (@doodlelie) December 26, 2018
— ???????????????????????????? (@troobshoob) December 26, 2018
— ???????? Tasha Maree ???????? (@tasha_bermudez) December 24, 2018
— ???????? Funny Tinge ???????? (@OfficialDover) December 26, 2018
— mori (@zendaphoria) December 25, 2018
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.
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.
Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box — best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film! pic.twitter.com/uorU3cSzHR
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) December 28, 2018
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.
How Olympia jumped out the window in Bird Box pic.twitter.com/pErGz0rOoR
— Name (@BreyonMorris) December 26, 2018
And the user is alarmed they’re being called a bot.
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.”
- Read more:
- ‘Bird Box’ is a passable thriller carried by an outstanding performance from Sandra Bullock – here’s what critics are saying
- Stephen King was ‘riveted’ by Netflix’s new thriller, ‘Bird Box,’ and slammed critics for suffering from ‘Netflix Prejudice’
- A woman’s phone automatically made a cheery video from her car-crash photos – and the result is morbidly hilarious
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