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  • US election: experts fear Twitter bots could spread lies and sway voters

    19 October 2016

    Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

    The project’s research into the 2016 US election was covered in I-News.

    Few would disagree that Donald Trump’s supporters are enthusiastic on Twitter. And during the first US presidential debate against rival Hillary Clinton, it was no different. Millions of tweets were sent out by people commentating on the heated head-to-head.But a new study has found that a fair few of the pro-Trump tweets could have been sent by bots, which are automated accounts that can deliver news or even spread spam.

    Professor Howard feared that on 8 November, the day of the presidential election, the bots could all become active and spread misinformation that could sway voters one way or another. “That could cause a real problem,” he said, adding it was sometimes difficult for Twitter users to distinguish between bots and their friends.

    Bots spreading negative messages were also more damaging than those pushing positive messages such as policy ideas. “People tend to get incensed by more negative messages. For example, when Trump supporters say negative things, those messages go further. An outrageous lie gets more retweets than public policy ideas.

    Read the full article here.

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