Alexander the Bot: The Twitter War for the Macedonian Soul

Kostas Zafeiropoulos Bitola, Skopje, Athens

From ‘ghost users’ to ‘cyborg bots’, a BIRN investigation shows how nationalists in North Macedonia, Greece and beyond are unleashing automated armies on social media to rally the masses.

Goran Kostovski, the man behind the ‘Cheese’ account on Twitter, sits in an outdoor cafe in the North Macedonia town of Bitola. Photo: Kostas Zafeiropoulos

As the sun dipped over the rooftops of the North Macedonia town of Bitola near the southern border with Greece, the man they call “Cheese” sipped a beer on the Sirok Sokak pedestrian strip.

As sundowns go, this one seemed fitting. It was August 12, the day North Macedonia outlawed the use of the Vergina Sun — a Greek national symbol — in books, on monuments and in public spaces.

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