Second account Musk, featured in the now-deleted post, @sentdefender, was identified by a research firm as a US military representative from Georgia who boosted Russian propaganda. As previously reported, both spread false information, including reports of a non-existent explosion near the White House, which sent stock prices plummeting.
Both scores were between seven quoted A week ago by researchers at the University of Washington as the “new elites” of influence on X, with more than 1.6 billion combined views in the first three days of the war.
Warmonitors alone had 132 million views at that point, while Sentdefender had 302 million. A report from the University of Washington found that the seven accounts were getting more views than established media accounts despite having fewer followers.
“Most accounts also frequently use video and images that are emotionally embedded,” the University of Washington researchers wrote. Remarkably, many of these accounts have received prior promotion from X owner Elon Musk through a direct recommendation or Musk's account responding to their content, which may explain their dominance on “NewsTwitter.”
Musk's Oct. 9 tweet ran for three hours, by which time it had been viewed by 11 million people. He also responded to both now unmasked accounts.
In July Warmonitors was published A screenshot indicating he was paid over $16,000 as part of X's incentives for content creators. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Both accounts describe themselves as news aggregators and “open source intelligence” reporters, primarily bringing to new audiences things that have already appeared elsewhere. (The current display name for Sentdefender accounts is OSINTdefender).
Unlike more established open source accounts, they often don't name the source, let alone link to the media where they appear with more context.
Open-source experts, such as those at the online investigative site Bellingcat, say the technique makes it difficult for followers to know how much weight to give posts, and they don't help other researchers build on their work.
However, the behavior appears to be optimized for the X's latest changes, which Musk says are designed to keep people in the app clicking to read or watch more. Musk has also taken steps to reduce traffic from X to major media organizations, including removing headlines from published articles.
Warmonitors and Sentdefender were identified by open source researchers using traditional techniques. In the case of Warmonitors, an older version of the account holder's X profile included a link to a PayPal address, as discovered by a group calling itself the Unintelligence Agency.
The group said a search for the PayPal address turned up an account on the freelancing site Fiverr under the name Jad Hassanieh. Previous posts by Warmonitors stated that the owner of the account lived in London, was of Lebanese origin and was a student just two years ago. One said he was born a few months after Syria left its occupation of Lebanon, possibly April 2005. That would make him 18 years old.
In a direct message exchange on X, Warmonitors told The Washington Post that he was simply Hassanieh's relative and used his PayPal address to remain anonymous. According to him, he posted from London during the visit. Warmonitors said he was now in Lebanon and asked not to be named.
“Not suitable for the game at this time. So, irrelevant,” he wrote.
Warmonitors has repeatedly referred to Israeli forces, civilian leaders and activists as Nazis, and it responded to someone on X in June with the response: “Mind your own business, Jew.”
He told The Post: “What I said was taken out of context, it wasn't right for them to say it, but it made sense in context.”
Attempts to contact Hassanieh via email Mail and X and LinkedIn failed.
Meanwhile, a European research company called Molfar dug into Sentdefender and found that the account had early used the name Simon Anderson, who named his place Georgia.
published accountMolfar said an email linked to OSINTdefender on Block's Cash App combines Anderson's name with his mother's name.
Baheeh Anderson, Simon's mother, was published on Facebook about her son's enlistment four years ago.
But much of what Sentdefender posted came from Russian Telegram channels, Molfar found, such as videos of alleged Ukrainian troops. surrendered to Russia. other post Footage used in the failed attack on Ukraine from Vargonzo, A in favor of war Russian blogger.
Sentdefender told followers that he was supporting Ukraine in the war, but at the time the only information was coming from the Russians.
Anderson did not respond to a direct message on X and attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.