Twitter Has a Serious Problem—And It's Actually a Bigger Deal Than People Realize
Bots can undermine democracy.
AJ Vicens, Mother Jones,
April 14, 2017
On March 30, during the first Senate intelligence committee hearing on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, London-based cybersecurity expert Thomas Rid described how several groups became "unwitting agents" of Russian efforts to influence the American presidential election. One was WikiLeaks, which has been accused by the US government of helping the Russian government when it published thousands of emails related to the Clinton campaign. Journalists who "aggressively covered the political leaks while neglecting or ignoring their provenance" were another group.
And so was Twitter, Rid said, because of the "fully automated bots as well as semi-automated spam and trolling accounts [that] make up a sizeable part of Twitter's active user base."
In a January 6 report, the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency alleged that the Russian government undertook a wide-ranging effort to influence the 2016 election in an attempt to "undermine the US-led liberal democratic order," and that part of that effort included "paid social media users or 'trolls.'"
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