Wednesday, April 11, 2012

There's no Alex Barton of Australian Property Forum

As if any more evidence was needed that Australian Property Forum is just a front site/troll nest for a group of property bulltrolls who have plagued Australian property based websites for years... see these links for previous posts:

Revert2Mean at the new Bubblepedia Forums has uncovered indisputable proof that social media accounts have been put together with fabricated details. The Facebook account of "Kim Barton" the supposed wife of Australian Property Forum owner "Alex Barton" has been exposed as a fraud with the profile picture taken from a Bulgaria Ski Holiday website (http://www.vacantaski.ro).

Since the fraud was exposed the Kim Barton Facebook page has been altered, but here is a screenshot showing the previously public aspects of the Kim Barton account next to the holiday website the picture was stolen from:

Click to image to enlarge
While I have no empirical proof, it's my solid belief that the "owner" of Australian Property Forum, Alex Barton, is simply a front name used by the trolls to make the site look more credible. The dodgy "blog" landing pages (ripping off other well known sites), slyly dropped links all over the web to this troll forum & the way the site owner allows users to slander and make defamatory posts about other sites and individuals should be enough for most to get the picture.

The Bubblepedia thread discussing this development and other evidence of the troll antics can be found here.

I don't agree with all the conclusions made in the thread by R2M and others (as I pointed out in the thread on Bubblepedia). For example I don't agree with the summation that Shadow and others are all the same individual (it is almost definitely a group of trolls, but they definitely do use sock puppets).

After finding another forum which they co-ordinate their trolling from (since moved) I've been sure it's a group of individuals (not all of who reside in the same state based on their IP addresses). Given the distance between them I would suggest the group know each other in real life, they are perhaps part of the same real estate agency, investment group or as has been suggested they are employees of a leading property data provider.

The motivations of this troll group are as clear as day when you consider the sites that they have tried most heavily to disrupt. Australian Property Forum is a front for astroturfing in support of Australian property and those behind it are likely to get more desperate as the correction in over priced Australian property continues.


BB.

10 comments:

  1. In their latest rant, the bulls trolls have accused you of being a criminal and stalker. Begs the question of how someone who doesn't exist can be stalked... keep on reporting those abusive IPs to their respective ISPs.

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  2. Here's an updated image for you BB...

    http://oi39.tinypic.com/14aedxd.jpg

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  3. lol I can see you start most of the threads Shadow, doesn't look like many users, what is it you and 1 or 2 others? Not much of a club.

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  4. @GHPC Troll Club. Wow! Just when you thought people on the internet couldn't get any sadder. They do!!! So let me get this right. You have set up a forum on the internet that you use to disrupt other forums on the internet that discuss the Australian Property Bubble. Is that correct?

    If so how is that hobby working for you guys?? I dont know about you but last time I checked discussion about the Australian Property Bubble was rampant all over the internet! Its everywhere! And house prices have fallen in the last 12 months also! Oh dear. GHPC Troll Club is a Fail. :(((((( Lulz!

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  5. It's a pretty sad life they are living if the many hours they put into it each day and week are just a hobby. If they are being paid as astroturfers then I'd be pretty unhappy with their performance as their employer... prices are still weak/falling.

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  6. Underneath the red lines, it definitely looks like someone called LPShadow is responsible. Perhaps that image should be forwarded to Chris Joye - I recall he was holding a certain blogger in high regard with the same name. Wonder what he'd think?

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  7. If the GHPC troll club are paid astroturfers then all they have achieved is to create suspicion about every single bullish poster on the internet who is now likely to be viewed as being an astroturfer. The other thing they achieved is to ensure that there are now more active forums discussing the Australian property bubble than every before. Disrupting a forum only leads to new forums and blogs being set up and more discussion being fueled about the Aussie housing bubble. Epic Fail. You cant fight free speech trolls.

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  8. I thought it was obvious from a while back that the trolling was a professional undertaking. If it is just amateur enthusiasts, or semi-professionals (e.g. small-time property investors or real estate agents) then they come across as a disturbed bunch. But most likely it's a paid Astro-turfing effort.

    So that begs a few questions (I have posted these before here I think, apologies if it's getting repetitive) -
    1. Who is funding it?
    2. Who is resourcing it? Do PR companies offer these types of services?
    3. What tools do the Astro-turfers use? e.g. Shadow slipped up once on CC (from memory) and referred to the fact that the site admin was 'ok with his use of the software'...what software? It seemed to refer to multiple identities but someone would have to dig up the thread to validate.
    4. What is the brief? We could probably all have a good guess: given the often-stated importance of 'confidence' in the market, their role is likely to be focused on promoting anything which favours confidence and attacking anything which impacts negatively on it

    There is a great story in this, shame there's no investigative journalists left.

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  9. @AnonymousApr 13, 2012 03:23 PM

    I tend to disagree with your surmise that they haven't been successful. Both GHPC and CC have basically been crippled by the attacks and while MacroBusiness lives on and grows stronger each day their comments section is now moderated making it difficult to have live discussion. Yes the housing bubble/bust conversation is still ongoing, but in my opinion it would be a lot more prolific and there would be more bearish forums if it weren't for this troll group.

    @ CSFNApr 13, 2012 11:57 PM

    These is some great work on uncovering these trolls now in progress at:

    http://bubblepedia.net.au/forums/viewforum.php?f=32

    Regarding your question 3, in my opinion Shadow's 'slip up' was an attempt to troll the bears on the site at the time. I don't think there is anything that sophisticated in use, they probably just use the GHPC Troll Club forum to keep track of events.

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  10. Yeh you could be right about the 'slip-up'. They do make a lot of effort to drop red herrings.

    I have followed the discussion at bubblepedia and the efforts so far are commendable but exposing the fictitious Alex Barton is a long way from identifying the funding source and the operators. I don't think the astroturfers bosses would be worried just yet. But if they can go a layer or two deeper then parts of the MSM might start to take notice.

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