Ford’s May 25 announcement that its EVs would join Tesla’s charging network generated significant attention. Jennifer Sensiba, an author at cleantechnica.com, went to Twitter and shared Electrify America’s press release responding to the news. Electrify America is a competitor to Tesla’s charging network (known as NACS) and stands to lose from Ford’s announcement.
Upon analyzing the replies to her tweet, Sensiba noticed many accounts that showed signs of being fake. These accounts displayed minimal activity and lacked profile pictures, header images, and descriptions.
To investigate further, Sensiba conducted an experiment by tweeting the names of various prominent clean tech companies. She found that while most companies received no response, tweets mentioning Electrify America attracted low- to medium-quality accounts that criticized the organization without context.
Based on these observations, Sensiba concluded that there is an ongoing campaign against Electrify America. This campaign aims to discredit the organization’s EV charging stations by exaggerating problems and creating the illusion of widespread dissatisfaction.
The motive and identity of those behind the campaign remain unknown. Sensiba speculated that the Chinese government could be responsible.
Why Removing the Bots Won’t Be Easy
A major issue that Sensiba failed to discuss was whether Twitter can be trusted to conduct an impartial study of the bots. Elon Musk owns both Tesla and Twitter, and Electrify America is a competitor to NACS. Therefore, Musk benefits from Electrify America’s Twitter account being flooded with negative comments.
Furthermore, in February, Musk announced that bots with “good” content would be allowed to access Twitter data for free. Musk did not specify what he considered to be “good” content. As a result, it’s highly likely that at least some of the Twitter conversation surrounding EV charging stations (and many other topics) is being driven by bots.
To be clear, there is no evidence that Elon Musk or Tesla are behind the suspicious activity that Sensiba observed. Nevertheless, the incident highlights how Electrify America will need to put more of a priority on combatting criticism on Twitter. If it cannot succeed, it may have to consider leaving the platform for other social media sites.