Sydney Festival reps have rubbished claims that the annual event has tapped bots to boost traffic.

Speculation ramped up on Monday (Jan. 24) that organisers had employed a “botnet,” that is, a network of connected online devices (a “robot network”) to increase goodwill on its Twitter account.

Slack Bastard blogger Andy Fleming got the ball rolling with a string of screengrabs which appeared to show dubious social activity.

Fleming later chimed in, “There’s no evidence that SF has anything to do with it; bot networks can be situated anywhere & activated by anyone w enuff $; i assume it’s an algorithmic malfunction, or somebody who hearts SF (or one of its assoc shows/venues) thinks that they’re halping using one.”

Bot networks are a shady way for any enterprise to build its own profile, or destroy another. And it’s simply not the case with Sydney Festival, reps say.

“I’ve seen the chatter,” a spokesperson tells TIO. “Sydney Festival has in no way sought or paid for the activity you’ve pointed to, and never would.”

This year’s Sydney Festival has been a particularly eventful one, in ways organisers wouldn’t have hoped for.

Earlier, Tropic Fuck Storm joined roughly 30 artists, businesses, and speakers who withdrew their participation in protest to the festival board’s decision to accept a $20,000 donation from the Israeli Embassy.

The cash, which earned Israel a listing as a “star partner” on the festival’s website, was in support of Decadance, a show based on work by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company and the Sydney Dance Company.

Other entertainers spoke out against the boycotts, with the likes of Deborah Conway and Kiss frontman Gene Simmons signing an open-letter pushing back against the boycott, published by the Creative Community For Peace.

The Sydney Festival is due to wrap up Jan. 30.

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