@ura-soul, votes you received from me were not auto-votes. I have a couple alt accounts that auto-follow each other, but that's just so I don't have to manually cast votes from multiple accounts (unless I choose to vote differently from different accounts, then I change the order in which I cast those votes).
Also, although I have never solicited it, I have noticed that there are a few accounts that follow my account(s) as a curation trail -- I've never looked closely at them, so I cannot tell you how significant that might be.
The notion that a whale (or group of whales) would downvote your posts to zero because of presumed auto-voting is utterly ridiculous, imo (like this post, which generated tons of engagement, but was still DV'ed to zero).
Quite honestly, all this disgusts me.
However, despite my disagreement with those actions (and my disdain for those who promulgate them), I am resolved that the Layer 1 'feature' that allows such actions must remain (as a feature on Layer 1, that is), at least for now.
The downside to such behavior is that there is no way you can win against it (on Layer 1). As soon as one or more HIVE whales start DV'ing your posts, then it becomes costly for your supporters to continue upvoting you (because their curation rewards get zeroed out along with your author rewards).
So, there is an action by the DV'ers that costs them nothing, but costs you (in rewards that they claim were never really yours, which is technically true) but their actions also cost your supporters, and cost them curation rewards that REALLY WERE THEIRS (or at least should have been).
And, the DV'ers can continue this ad infinitum because it costs them nothing. The fact that it costs your supporters means many of them will stop upvoting your content (to stop incessantly losing their curation rewards). This is why such action is so disgusting to me -- it penalizes your supporters until they stop supporting you (or just keeps penalizing them, if they're stupid enough to continue throwing their curation rewards away).
I will be posting a more detailed explanation about my thoughts on this topic, and will link to that post here after it's published. (HINT: The answer to this problem resides on Layer 2, or at least it will shortly.)
In the meantime, I wish you the best in your fight against this abusive behavior; however, imho, you will be better off doing whatever you can to appease them rather than fight them or try to argue with them; they sincerely believe they are the 'righteous' ones. Nothing you or I say will convince them otherwise.