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Are Bots a Danger for Political Election Campaigns?


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Social bots can simulate human behavior on social networks.

Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University have probed the extent to which autonomous social bots were used on Twitter during Japan's general elections in 2014.

Credit: fotohansel/Fotolia.com

Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) in Germany have probed the extent to which autonomous social bots were used on Twitter during Japan's general elections in 2014.

The team analyzed more than 540,000 tweets using a corpus linguistics strategy so large volumes of text could be examined, and found nearly 80% of the investigated tweets were duplicates traced back to a total of 3,722 original tweets. Five proliferation patterns were uncovered, four of which were used by right-wing activists, and one by users who acted similarly to bots.

FAU professor Fabian Schafer says it seems as if social bots were widely used by right-wing users, to give indirect online backing to Shinzo Abe's nationalistic agenda. "As a result, Abe's position was not only supported by the conservative organizations of a group of users with close links to the [Liberal Democratic Party] but also by the large...group of right-wing Internet activists," Schafer notes.

From Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nurnberg (Germany)
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