Disney Using Fake People To Post Positive Star Wars Hype, Say X Users

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

A New Hope

Say it ain’t so! According to a recent poll conducted by very own Giant Freakin Robot X account, many on the platform suspect Disney engages in suspicious, even fraudulent behavior. Users allege that Disney, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, is behind an enormous network of fake accounts, popularly known as “sock puppets”—all of which are used to drum up positive buzz for their content, especially the Star Wars franchise.

Results of the GFR X poll

An X poll reveals that most respondents believe Disney is astroturfing social media with sock puppet accounts.

A hypothetical Disney boardroom would find the poll results startling. 

How startling? 

Well, 58.6 percent of those polled believe that 75 percent—yes, two-thirds—of the X accounts only posting positive content about Disney are actually bots. While 20.7 of X users who answered the poll are still highly suspicious of Disney, considering 50 percent of accounts that only rave about Disney content to be sock puppets.

Ten point three percent of those polled held more moderate views, believing 25 percent of Disney-obsessed accounts to be fake. Lastly, another 10.3 percent of those who took the poll are Disney bots themselves (kidding…slightly), believing no bots—none—peddle propaganda for Disney or Star Wars.

Disney is popular, and there are plenty of people who love it, but no one agrees 100 percent with everything a company produces.

Of course, the notion that gigantic corporations might be employing bots or fake accounts to manipulate public opinion isn’t exactly new. 

Platforms like X have long battled with bots—automated accounts that can be programmed to tweet, retweet, like, and follow based on specific algorithms. These bots can flood the platform with messages swaying public opinion or artificially amplifying particular narratives. The reach of bots also goes beyond Disney and Star Wars—influencing politics, for example (recent Presidential Elections come to mind, as does Britain’s Brexit vote). 

Star War Damon Lindelof
The Rise of Skywalker

A variety of motives often lie behind these manipulations. For example, they could be used to drown out criticism, boost positive receptions, or manipulate stock prices. Usually, though, they are deployed merely to fabricate an illusion of popularity. 

But, Disney–could it be true? Is it possible?

Well, a humongous, global phenomenon of a public company like Disney certainly shoulders a lot of pressure from its shareholders. Such pressure could compel its executives to stoop to sock puppetry. Having acquired the Star Wars franchise in 2012, Disney has weathered its fair share of ups and downs.

Whether Disney rolled out sock puppets to boost interest in Star Wars or not, it is still a good idea to approach the poll’s findings cautiously.

Sure, movies like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi garnered enormous commercial success. However, the company has also endured significant backlash from large sectors of the (former) fandom, including because of the company’s perceived politics. Moreover, Micky Mouse also owns Marvel, meaning public opinion surrounding the latter’s releases is similarly essential. 

Considering the detrimental effect of polarisation surrounding content, the entertainment giant would want to steer public opinion in a positive direction. After all, billions of dollars are at stake—meaning ensuring a positive reception can be pivotal for a company’s bottom line.

Whether Disney rolled out sock puppets to boost interest in Star Wars or not, it is still a good idea to approach the poll’s findings cautiously. While the poll may capture the perceptions and beliefs of its respondents, we nonetheless lack direct evidence. However, the results underscore the mounting mistrust in the public regarding big corporations’ activities on social media.