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Russian Twitter accounts meddled in Brexit vote, US polls: Data scientists

Facebook, Twitter and Google are facing intense fake news scrutiny after disclosing the details about the presence of Russian political ads, tweets and posts on their platforms during the presidential

IANS  |  London 

File Photo: Shutterstock
File Photo: Shutterstock

In a startling revelation, a group of data scientists has found 156,252 Russian accounts have meddled on which mentioned #and posted nearly 45,000 messages related to the EU in the 48 hours around the vote.

According to a report in The Times on Thursday, "Russian accounts posted more than 45,000 messages about in 48 hours during last year's in an apparently coordinated attempt to sow discord".

According to data scientists from Swansea University in Wales and the University of California, Berkeley, over 150,000 Russian accounts who were posting about the Ukrainian conflict swiftly started tweeting about in days leading up to the 2016 vote.

"From posting fewer than 1,000 a day before June 13, the accounts -- many of which are virulently pro-Putin -- posted 39,000 on June 23-24," the report said.

Tho Pham, one of the report authors, confirmed to TechCrunch that the majority of those were posted on June 24, 2016, the day after the vote.

"During the day, there is a sign that attempted to spread more leave messages with positive sentiment as the number of leave with positive sentiment increased dramatically on that day," the research said.

"Furthermore, before the Day, among those humans' retweets from bots, by the Leave side accounted for about 50 per cent of retweets while only nearly 20 per cent of retweets had pro-remain content," it added.

According to researchers, a similar trend was observed for the sample.

"Before the Day, about 80 per cent of retweets were in favour of (Donald) Trump while only 20 per cent of retweets were supporting (Hillary) Clinton," the research paper noted.

The data scientists used Twitter's API to obtain relevant datasets of to analyse and reach the conclusion.

They found a clear difference in the volume of Russian-related between sample and sample.

"For the Referendum, the massive number of Russian-related were only created few days before the voting day, reached its peak during the voting and result days then dropped immediately afterwards," the researchers wrote.

"In contrast, Russian-related existed both before and after the Day," they added.

More interestingly, the team observed that the influence of pro-leave was stronger than the influence of pro-remain

"Similarly, pro-Trump are more influential than pro-Clinton Thus, to some degree, the use of social might drive the outcomes of and the Election," the researchers added.

Political events like the and the Presidential -- have observed the use of social in spreading fake news and misinformation.

"This, coupled with the echo chambers nature of social media, might lead to the case that could shape public opinions in negative ways. If so, policy-makers should consider mechanisms to prevent abuse of in the future," the paper said.

Facebook, and are facing intense fake news scrutiny after disclosing the details about the presence of Russian political ads, and posts on their platforms during the presidential in 2016.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 16 2017. 11:18 IST