The Bell Pottinger-type Twitterati that have agglomerated around #PutSouthAfricaFirst and "Lerato Pillay" took a step towards the outright sinister on the weekend, when appeals to "clean SA", alongside #NigeriansMustGo, began trending on the social media site.The network of 80-odd fake accounts and the xenophobic vitriol it spews is not new: the Digital Forensic Research Lab reported on it in July, and UCT’s Centre for Analytics & Behavioural Change (CABC) released a tracking study on it last month. But its call to action on September 23 — ostensibly with a march to the Nigerian embassy in Pretoria — to "clean SA" and "reclaim" Hillbrow, Kempton Park and Sunnyside from "Nigerian criminals" carries shades of Rwanda in it.The organic reach of the network’s dog-whistle is cause for concern: about 12,000 users were engaging in its conversations on April 1; by the end of May that number had reached 50,000, the CABC found — and was growing.While the study notes the users have tended to st...

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