Earlier this week, the hashtag #TrudeauMustGo rocketed to the top of Twitter’s trending list in Canada in what appeared to be a surge of discontent with the prime minister.
However, a closer look at the hashtag and related Twitter activity revealed accounts tweeting at ‘non-human rates’ caused it to hit the trending list.
According to the National Observer, which analyzed 31,600 tweets from 8,185 unique accounts that used the hashtag, there are several indicators of inauthentic activity.
For one, many of the accounts appear to be either fully or partially automated, pushing out a large number of tweets per day. The National Observer singled out the account @CanadaProud10, which was the top contributor to the hashtag with 119 tweets featuring #TrudeauMustGo. Reportedly, the account was created in May 2019 and tweeted on average 142 times per day since. Another significant contributor, @ErikLuczak, tweeted on average 313 times per day since December 2018.
Additionally, several accounts appeared to have a U.S. focus, with many supporting President Donald Trump. Some 400 accounts featured the word ‘MAGA’ in their profiles.
Over two dozen accounts that tweeted the hashtag were created within a few days of doing so. Many of these also tweeted at inhuman rates, with some tweeting as many as 230 times in 24 hours.
However, the hashtag got a boost from real Canadians as well, with many using #TrudeauMustGo to express their feelings towards the prime minister. Others used it to boost hashtags in support of Trudeau, such as #ScheerDesperation and #TrudeauMustStay.
The National Observer points out that automated and inauthentic accounts and activity on social networks can create the appearance of support or opposition for an issue, position, candidate or other things. This is called ‘manufactured consensus.’ It’s not common in Canada but is a recognized pattern in the U.S.
The incident furthered concerns about how social networks can be abused to manipulate online discourse ahead of the federal election. It’s worth noting that Twitter has taken steps to mitigate issues around elections, such as bringing its ‘Ads Transparency Centre’ to Canada to regulate political advertising in line with Bill C-76. Additionally, CTV News says that last year the social network suspended more than 70 million accounts over two months as it cracked down on fake users.
Source: National Observer
Via: CTV News