- ‘SNL’ gives us the daddy pageant we’ve been dying for Today 10:28 AM
- How pranksters fooled the internet in 2018 Today 8:00 AM
- 2018 belonged to trans people Today 6:30 AM
- How to watch local channels on Roku Today 6:30 AM
- How to watch Levante vs. Barcelona online for free Today 6:19 AM
- How to watch Liverpool vs. Manchester United online for free Today 6:00 AM
- The best couch co-op video games for couples Today 6:00 AM
- Pete Davidson is OK and at work following alarming Instagram post Saturday 7:26 PM
- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker doesn’t know how to use a Venn diagram Saturday 5:38 PM
- This college student made a movie trailer to tease her boyfriend, and Twitter can’t get enough (updated) Saturday 3:13 PM
- ‘Kappa Delta Crypto’ aims to break stereotypes in five-minute Snapchat episodes Saturday 2:29 PM
- Two iPhone X customers are suing Apple over screen size Saturday 1:18 PM
- Secretary Ryan Zinke is out at the Department of the Interior Saturday 12:03 PM
- How to watch the New Orleans Bowl online for free Saturday 10:25 AM
- Prada’s racist toys pulled from shelves after social media backlash (updated) Saturday 10:22 AM
Bots may have increased Trump’s vote in the 2016 election.
This army of fake bots on Twitter—millions of which follow Trump—contributes to “news laundering,” a social media analytics expert told the Daily Dot, where the bots can legitimize news by making it appear to be a trending topic.
Earlier this week Bloomberg reported that the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that bots may have increased Trump’s vote in the 2016 election by 3.23 percentage points.
The study also found that Trump supporters online “tended to react” to messages sent by pro-Trump bots, and this information was disseminated on Twitter within 50-70 minutes, according to the news outlet.
“Bots have a tangible effect on the tweeting activity of humans,” the NBER paper reads, adding: “Overall, our results suggest that the aggressive use of Twitter bots, coupled with the fragmentation of social media and the role of sentiment, could contribute to the vote outcomes.”
The Daily Dot reported earlier this year that more than 35 percent of the president’s Twitter following were suspected “egg accounts,” or a handle without a handle, and 20 percent of his entire following at the time had strong characteristics of what Social Rank, a social media analytics company, determines to be “artificial followers.”
While it’s unclear how many bots, or fake followers, are following the president–the sheer amount of pro-Trump bots on Twitter can impact more than just vote outcomes.
Alex Taub, the co-founder of SocialRank, told the Daily Dot on Wednesday it was “hard to really tell the full impact” of bots because they can generate a false sense of importance for trending topics that ultimately are covered by various news outlets from across the political spectrum.
“You don’t know if those 20,000 people are a bunch of bots in Gibraltar–or Russia–so now they’re like ‘its an interesting topic, it’s a growing topic, so let’s go cover it. That’s the hardest part of it–how much of that goes and turns into legitimate content for regular outlets, for right outlets, left outlets?” Taub said. “I think the impact could be even higher than people realize.”
Taub likened the bots to money laundering.
“Money laundering is you take bad money and turn it into ‘good’ money,” Taub said. “You take bad money you got from a drug deal and then you buy a real estate apartment. When you go and sell that apartment, that money has now been laundered because it was bad and now its ‘good.’ Same thing with news. You take this bad ‘news’ and you put it out on Twitter, it gets picked up by a legitimate outlet. You’ve just laundered news.”
Earlier this year the New York Times reported how businesses were selling fake followers to athletes, entertainers, and others to inflate popularity. Oftentimes those accounts can be used to spread false content.
You can read all of Bloomberg’s report here.
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).