TWITTER GAFFE: Senator Ian Macdonald probably should have checked his own Twitter followers before calling others out. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
TWITTER GAFFE: Senator Ian Macdonald probably should have checked his own Twitter followers before calling others out. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

Macdonald tripped up by Twitter sex bots

QUEENSLAND LNP Senator Ian Macdonald has been called out for critiquing politicians with "fake" Twitter followers while his own account is being followed by "sex bots".

Senator Macdonald told a Senate Estimates committee a "concerned citizen" had shared his fears about "fake bots" influencing politics.

"I don't really use or understand Twitter, I think I've got 400 genuine followers," he said.

Senator Macdonald asked Home Affairs officials if it was possible to buy "fake" followers, referencing a recent article claiming more than 7000 of Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching's Twitter followers were linked to Russian internet bots.

"I see that one of my colleagues has 26,000 followers on their Twitter ... but according to this article most of them are purchased. They're fake bots. Are you able to buy fake bots?" he said.

Department of Home Affairs national cyber security adviser Alastair MacGibbon said social media companies were getting better at shutting down fake bots.

"But there's no doubt that there are factories that ... (are) producing fake accounts over a whole range of social media accounts, not just Twitter, and some of those are available to purchase," MacGibbon said.

But Senator Macdonald's reference to his 400 "genuine" followers attracted the attention of media and politicians after it was revealed several of his Twitter followers appeared to be sex bots.

The biography of one of the accounts following Senator Macdonald read: "Hi, I am free, hot and open mind! Write me, don't be shy."