Bogus Accounts Breach Front Porch Forum
by Ken Signorello
March 14, 2021
Using the hyperlocal social media platform Front Porch Forum, one or more individuals have created false accounts and used them across eight forum neighborhoods to make it appear as if different individuals were making statements about merger and alternatives.
On March 13th two nearly-identical Front Porch Forum posts showed up in eight Essex Front Porch neighborhoods. Seven posts were created under false accounts.
The eighth post was listed using an authentic account, that of Saramichelle Stultz. Her post was identical in content to the others, except for the occasional insertion of a youtube link, and all were published the same day.
Upon investigation, four of the email addresses were created on hosts whose records are difficult to penetrate. One of them (email@example.com) was just added to FPF on March 12th, the day before the posting blitz.
The domain for firstname.lastname@example.org is linked to City Bluff Condominiums’ website which shows “Website Design and Development by Pallas Web Development”.
The other email address used to spoof FPF is email@example.com. The oneessex.today domain was created on March 4th. There is no website behind it yet, but its name server is identical to the one used by CityBluffcondos.com: NS1.PALLASWEBDEVELOPMENT.COM
Pallas Web Development is owned by Athena Letourneau Newhard. Newhard has been a strong proponent of merger, as has Stultz. Newhard is also one of the signatories of the Essex Merger Recount petition, along with her husband Adam.
Newhard appears to be responsible for creating at least two of the fictitious users on FPF, unless someone has hacked her client's domain, used it to create a fake account on FPF, and registered a domain under which to create an email address used on FPF.
Front Porch Forum readers rely on its content, and their trust has been neglected. Citizens can no longer rely on what they read, nor can they even be sure who is saying it.
Essex is known for computer chip manufacturing but seems to be adding troll farms and sock puppets to its industry.
The Merger issue contention is fueling increasingly aggressive attempts to influence an election outcome.
These are the eight Front Porch Forum neighborhoods in which seven accounts were used to make the posts:
Redacted to preserve privacy
Regular readers of FPF questioned the origin and content of these posts. Checking the unfamiliar posters' names on public lists – voter Checklist, Grand list, whitepages – the identities of the posters could not be verified.