Junk News and Bots during the French Presidential Election (Round II)

5 May 2017

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Computational propaganda distributes large amounts of misinformation about politics and public policy over social media platforms. The combination of automation and propaganda can significantly impact public opinion during important policy debates, elections, and political crises. We collected Twitter data on bot activity and junk news using a set of hashtags related to the French presidential election for three days during the second round of campaigning. For our research on the first round of voting, see Data Memo 2014.3. (1) Content about Macron still dominates Twitter conversation about French politics, though the gap between Macron and Le Pen traffic has narrowed over time. (2) The proportion of traffic originating with highly automated accounts doubled between the first and second round of voting. (3) The ratio of links to professionally produced news content to other political content has gone from about 2 to 1 in the first round of voting to about 1 to 1 in the second round of voting. (4) Compared to our study of similar trends in the US, we find that Twitter users discussing French politics are sharing higher quality political news and information than many US users were sharing during the US Presidential election, but lower quality information than French users were sharing in the first round of voting and lower quality information than German users were sharing in the German Presidential election.

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Clementine Desigaud, Philip N. Howard, Samantha Bradshaw, Bence Kollanyi, and Gillian Bolsolver.  “Junk News and Bots during the French Presidential Election: What Are French Voters Sharing Over Twitter in Round Two?” Data Memo 2017.4. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. demtech.oii.ox.ac.uk.

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