Tom Prides on whether the petition to revoke article 50 has really been hacked by some Russian bots and non-Brit fraudsters, as Nigel Farage and other Brexiters have repeatedly claimed.
First published in March 2019.
• The Revoke Article 50 petition has gathered over 4.7 million signatures since 20 March.
• The petition is now the biggest petition on the Parliament’s website.
• The creator of the petition has explained that she has since received death threats, had her Facebook account hacked and received a torrent of abuse on social media.
According to leading Brexiters, the petition to Revoke Article 50 allows people to sign multiple times, allows non-Brits from abroad to sign it and is being boosted by “armies” of fake Russian bots:
Nigel Farage, 23 March. / Sky News
The extraordinary success of the petition (over 4.7 million and still counting at the time of publication) has got panicking Brexit leaders rolling out porkies to their easily hoodwinked supporters to rival those written on the side of a bus.
LIE 1: The petition allows people to sign multiple times.
It is possible to sign the petition multiple times, but the signature will only be counted as a genuine signature and added to the petition count once it is verified by email address.
Each email address is verified as valid and unique to each signer’s name after the IP address and identity has passed through anti-abuse measures by no less than Google, Microsoft and Apple combined.
Here’s an explanation from the ‘Technology in Government’ UK government website on how fraud is detected on government petitions:
LIE 2: The petition allows non-Brits from abroad to sign it.
The petition can be signed from anywhere in the world. Many British citizens live or work abroad, are on holiday or on business trips. That is why there are signatures made from other countries.
But still, every signature must be verified as being from a British citizen or legal UK resident, or it will not be counted as a signature.
In any case, so far, just 1.4% of signatures on the petition have been from abroad:
LIE 3: The petition is being boosted by armies of fake bots.
Again, every signature has to run a gauntlet of verifications, including from Google, Apple and Microsoft, to ensure it is valid and genuine. This makes it impossible for signatures from fake bots to be included in the signature count.
On top of that, mass signings from accounts or geographical locations are also closely monitored. Again, from the gov.uk website:
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