A new study has found that nearly half of the Twitter accounts pushing to reopen America are fake bot accounts, and the number is even higher among influencers.
According to Carnegie Mellon University researchers:
To analyze bot activity around the pandemic, CMU researchers since January have collected more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or COVID-19. Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots.
Many factors of the online discussions about “reopening America” suggest that bot activity is orchestrated. One indicator is the large number of bots, many of which are accounts that were recently created. Accounts that are possibly humans with bot assistants generate 66% of the tweets. Accounts that are definitely bots generate 34% of the tweets.
A subset of tweets about “reopening America” reference conspiracy theories, such as hospitals being filled with mannequins or the coronavirus being linked to 5G towers.
In 2016, Trump supporters picked up Russian misinformation and spread it to the electorate. The study can’t determine who is behind this activity, but sowing division and misinformation is a tactic that both Trump and the Russians used in the last presidential election.
As an added bonus, the Chinese government also has an incentive to spread misinformation about the coronavirus as well, so it is a safe assumption that multiple actors are behind the campaign.
The campaign has not been effective with the general population in the United States. Polling reveals that vast majorities are placing health ahead of reopening the economy, and there is an intense level of concern about the second wave of infection.
The goal of Trump and the Russians to divide, and they are trying to Americans against each other on COVID-19.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association