Thousands of Pro-Trump Twitter Bots Discovered, Attack DeSantis and Haley

Someone has created thousands of fake and automated Twitter accounts over the last 11 months to offer a stream of praise for Donald Trump and denigration of his electoral enemies, according to Israeli tech firm Cyabra.

President Trump

The fake account had markedly different approaches to all three GOP candidates. While they praised Trump, they ridiculed Nikki Haley as a potential presidential challenge to her former boss. However, when it came to Ron DeSantis, the bots allegedly took the stance that while the Florida Governor could not beat Trump, he’d make a great running mate as a prospective vice president. This difference in approach may betray the perceived strength of Trump’s two potential Republican challengers.

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The bot network, which may range into the hundreds of thousands,  was uncovered by researchers at Cyabra, an Israeli tech firm that shared its findings with The Associated Press. The network’s creator is unknown, but Cybara analysts told the AP it’s likely within the US.

Analysts attempt to distinguish between bot accounts and real users by analyzing the output. While real users post mixed content, including original posts and retweets, bots are more repetitive.

Jules Gross, the Cyabra engineer who first discovered the network, explained the process to the AP.

“One account will say, ‘Biden is trying to take our guns; Trump was the best,’ and another will say, ‘Jan. 6 was a lie and Trump was innocent.’ Those voices are not people. For the sake of democracy I want people to know this is happening.”

This pro-Trump network of alleged bots is three separate networks created in large, different batches. One was in April, then another two in rapid succession in October and November of 2022, potentially in response to increasing certainty that Trump would run for office.

According to Cybra, the accounts all feature personal photos of the alleged account holder and a name. There’s also variation between accounts, with some posting original content, often in reply to real users, while others reposted content from real users.

Cybra looked to measure the impact of the account network as well. Twitter has said that less than 5% of its active daily users are fake or spam accounts. However, Cyabra researchers found that nearly three-fourths of the negative posts about Haley, for example, were traced back to fake accounts, indicating a significant increase from the norm.

On this basis, Cybara concluded that this presence of bots was influencing public understanding of republican sentiments.

 

“Our understanding of what is mainstream Republican sentiment for 2024 is being manipulated by the prevalence of bots online.”

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The report indicated that many accounts remain active but have a relatively small number of followers. The purpose of such accounts is not to convince anyone directly to change their beliefs or behavior but to amplify particular messages to give the public a false sense of the popularity of a person or idea, indirectly achieving the same result.

However, not everyone is convinced by the report, as it echoes many other dubious rumors that sprung up around Trump in past election cycles.


Other stories you may want to read:

Feds. Investigating Massachusetts High School for ‘Racial Segregation’ Against White Students

GOP Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy Rips Former President Trump-Would Shut FBI

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