It's time to wake up and smell the coffee.
Since late January, Twitter has suspended at least three Howard Schultz fan accounts for violating its policies. On Thursday, Twitter has suspended an additional three more accounts pretending to support the former Starbucks CEO's political ambitions.
Schultz hasn't officially announced he's running for president, but the businessman has said he's considering an independent run for the White House. Since his announcement in late January, a network of accounts pretending to support the former coffee shop executive has popped up on Twitter.
On Thursday, Twitter suspended the accounts @GaysForSchultz, @PresSchultz2020, and @HowardJSchultz. The @HowardJSchultz account described itself as "Millennials for Schultz." All three accounts posted alt-right content before they were suspended.
The @GaysForSchultz account responded to tweets about Ruth Bader Ginsburg conspiracy theories, while the @PresSchultz2020 account posted anti-Muslim content alongside posts supporting Schultz's presidential ambitions.
Schultz didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Creating social media profiles to generate fake support for politicians on social media isn't new. During the 2016 US presidential election, Russian operatives made fan pages on Facebook and accounts on Twitter supporting third-party candidates, such as Jill Stein, with the intention of pulling votes away from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate.
In late January, Twitter suspended the accounts @Blacks4Schultz and @GOP4Schultz, the former for operating multiple accounts. The @Blacks4Schultz account had a stock photo image of an African-American man with "Howard" edited onto his shirt.
The most prominent account was "@Women_4_Schultz," an account created by Jacob Wohl, a conservative activist who bragged to USA Today about his plans to create fraudulent Twitter profiles and promote weaker candidates for the 2020 presidential election.
Wohl's four fake accounts, along with his own Twitter profile, was suspended on Tuesday for violating the social network's policies, "specifically creating and operating fake accounts," a Twitter representative said.
The other five suspended Schultz accounts aren't tied to Wohl, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Some accounts pretending to support Schultz are still active on Twitter, as the social network allows parody profiles as long as they don't violate Twitter's rules.
Social networks are gearing up for a flood of disinformation as the 2020 US presidential election draws closer.
It proved to be an effective tool for Russian operatives in 2016, and US intelligence officials now consider disinformation a global threat.
The slow drip of Schultz accounts getting suspended is just a small case of the flood of disinformation that social networks are expecting over the next year.