BREAKING: Tar Sands Pipeline Backers Resort to Fake Twitter Accounts To Show “Grassroots” Support

Written by Brant Olson

Topics: Climate, Oil

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A typical account

A typical fake Twitter account set up by tar sands cheerleaders

UPDATE (8/8/11): @kbockman, and all of the 25 fake Twitter accounts we listed, have now been removed. and Keith’s Facebook page are also down. The links to those accounts previously indicated below now show screenshots taken before the accounts were removed.

The office of a former Nebraska Senator working for the American Petroleum Institute appears to have set up more than a dozen fake Twitter accounts to promote the KeystoneXL tar sands pipeline.

Followers of the #tarsands hashtag on Twitter may have noticed a strange spike in posts yesterday morning. Within three minutes, fifteen accounts (here’s the list the list has since grown) all posted the message “#tarsands the truth is out! [link]” linking to API’s web page about oil sands. Then came another post from the same accounts, this time linking to the Nebraska Energy Forum, one of 26 state-based-front-groups sponsored by API in the lead up to the 2012 election. Then a flurry of posts late last night from those same accounts, all linking to a post on “” touting KeystoneXL and linking back to the Nebraska Energy Forum.

WTF? Let’s connect the dots.

First, fourteen of those accounts are clearly fake. The simultaneous posts were all sent via the “Netvibes Official Widget” that allows users to post to multiple Twitter accounts at the same time. All fourteen accounts were established in the same week in July, most on the same day. Each of their avatars appear to have been pulled from the web. One was pulled from All use variations on very simple names (jimjohnson16, richhoward1) and have very similar “everyperson” type descriptions (“Environmentally and economically concerned citizen looking for real facts. We need to make wise choices in during these uncertain times [sic]“), and all tend to retweet one another, bombard journalists with favorable opinions on the KeystoneXL pipeline, and generally cheerlead for tar sands.

Keith Backmann

Keith Bockmann (left)

The fifteenth account is kbockmann aka Keith Bockmann aka kbdank, a party boy from Omaha who established that website on July 15th.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Keith also registered, an Omaha-based law firm.  He describes himself as a paralegal and is a friend of Greg Abboud on Facebook. Greg’s partner at Abboud Law Firm is Chris Abboud, the former Nebraska Senator, whom I presume to be Greg’s brother. Chris, meanwhile, is also a tobacco lobbyist and “Grassroots Coordinator for the Nebraska Energy Forum.” And finally, the maiden name of Greg’s wife appears to be Bockmann (not hard to figure out, but I won’t implicate her with links here).

Former Nebraska Senator Chris Abboud

Former Nebraska Senator Chris Abboud

So to recap: It looks very much like the “grassroots” being coordinated by Chris Abboud are the fabrications of his employee and nephew, Keith Bockmann.

If you’re on Twitter MySpace drop @kbockmann kbdank a line. Let’s see if he continues to defend his “real supporters.” You may also want to drop the Omaha Police Union a line to let them know their what their $10K/month lobbyist is doing on the side.

From August 20 – September 3, concerned people from across the continent — students, scientists, Indigenous peoples, church groups, environmentalists, parents, celebrities, and more — are gathering in Washington for a mass act of civil disobedience at the White House. Over 1,500 individuals are already registered to join this wave of sustained sit-ins to send a clear message to the President: The People are saying NO to the 2000-mile climate-destroying Keystone XL pipeline.

If you’ve had it with climate change and astroturf stunts like this, and are ready to engage in a new level of community activism, you can register to join the action at

18 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. keith Bockmann says:

    LOL, I have not been paid a single cent from any group to promote keystone XL pipeline. These allegations are false.

  2. Brant Olson says:

    Let’s see Keith. On Twitter you just said “@branto I’m great! YOU have just helped me! I needed to see what impact I could make. Thanks! I haven’t been paid a cent to do this.” Now you say the allegations are false. Which is it?

    We’ll see what impact you’ve made…

  3. keith Bockmann says:

    I’m saying I don’t collect any money from this. I am a college student trying to promote my own personal cause. allegations about me working for API to do what YOU do for Environmentalist.

  4. keith Bockmann says:

    I am studying social media metrics and am currently undergoing research for a paper. Looks like you wasted all the leg work for nothing.

  5. keith Bockmann says:

    brant I thought you cared about the facts.. did you know that if we say no to Keystone XL then the oil will just end up spilling into the ocean? I don’t want that. If cars could run on air alone I would support it. If you actually read the site I made you can see that I I am trying to get all the facts together, its not my doing if the research out there doesn’t support your position.

  6. john samaha says:

    Keith – India is currently releasing the worlds first air powered car with zero emissions

  7. Brant Olson says:

    Keith, you lied. And you continue to lie. You’re not credible.

  8. RedGreen says:

    Keith Brockman, if you say yes to the Keystone XL pipeline you’ll end up without drinking water because the Ogallala aquifer will be poisoned. It’s a shame that you haven’t thought about how this is going to bite you in the ass.

    Leave the damn bitumen (tar sands) in the ground and quit fouling Paradise.

  9. J. Frank says:

    Keith is a college student that goes to school in August? Hmmm..

  10. dan says:

    Nice investigative work, Brant. It’s pretty obvious someone is creating fake public support, and doing a poor job at it. Why would a Pizza Hut manager suddenly create 122 tweets in less than two weeks, exclusively about tar sands and KeystoneXL? And the same for someone describing themselves as “a loving mom of two teenage girls and four cats.” Please… A real mom of six would have tweeted at least one picture of her cats.

  11. Jenn B says:

    Looks like Keith Bockmann can’t be found on Facebook anymore. He’s no longer listed publicly via search, or as a friend of Greg Abboud. It’s very possible that this post (plus the Mother Jones piece by Kate Sheppard) sent him into the social media doghouse with his tail between his legs. Excellent job!

  12. analytics says:

    Here’s a map of connections among some of the tweeters: Pink arrows are a two way link, yellow is a one way follow.

  13. chickeee in Canada says:

    unfortunately @kbockmann was suspended by Twitter

  14. KeithBogus says:

    Keith doth protest too much, methinks..

  15. ldoone says:

    so Bockman says if we say no to Keystone the oil will end up spilling into the ocean.. it’s a long way to the ocean from the tar sands of Canada.. if you leave it alone it will stay right where it is..
    But I saw this same kind of tactic used in 2008 on AARP community message boards, when a crew of posters showed up warning seniors that the healthcare bill would create death panels to kill them off, and would cause the rationing of their Medicare services to pay for everyone else’s care. They pretended to be frightened seniors, warning the others before it was too late.. We all saw the result when congress members were mobbed at town hall meetings back in their districts. All of those phony people disappeared after they got the desired result.

  16. Hue Geezy says:

    Looks like Brant started something that back fired on him. On the someone posted that they connected the dots as suggested by Brant and that Brant say’s the real story is that Big oil has been lying to American’s, which is an unproven statement. But what is proven is that RAN and Brant’s big funder, Credo mobile, has been lying. Look it up, I did and its true! OMG!

  17. Howd says:

    Check out the Credo Mobile who funds RAN is caught!!! Bummer Brant

  18. Peter says:

    No matter how hard we try to use renewable energy to save the planet we will never be successful if certain business organizations are not willing to sacrifice their profits. For example the government of Canada will not keep its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a result of excessive oil sand production. We call ourselves an environmentally conscious nation but our government is doing everything to damage this self-stereotype of ours.

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