To counter the documentary’s portrayal of its harassment, the Church has been paying Twitter to promote tweets that mock and disparage its critics.
Journalists have caught screengrabs of at least two promoted tweets from @FreedomEthics, the official Twitter account of Scientology’s Freedom magazine, that use this ad hominem tactic to rebut the documentary’s criticism.
Twitter declined to comment on its advertising arrangement with the Church, telling the Daily Dot that it didn’t address individual ad campaigns. But it is clear from a Twitter search that plenty of people have seen the promoted tweets.
The first tweet accuses the film of using “regular tabloid feeders.” Yet that same tweet mirrors a sleazy tabloid article by including an unflattering bikini photo of Amy Scobee, a former scientologist who wrote the book Scientology: Abuse at the Top. According to a 2010 Freedom profile of Scobee, she “spends her days posting salacious drivel to cyberterrorists on the lunatic fringe of the Internet.”
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 27, 2015
The second tweet calls Going Clear director Alex Gibney a “Dr. of Propaganda” and links to a video intend to discredit him using the oldest trick in the book of Internet arguments: comparing him to Nazi filmmakers.
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 26, 2015
Freedom’s Facebook page, on the other hand accuses Going Clear of a different kind of wrongdoing. Nearly a dozen of its most recent posts include the hashtag #GoingClear, an image of people sleeping in a movie theater, and a string of Zs to indicate sleeping.
Going Clear is currently streaming on HBO Go.
Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III