Ateam of researchers at the University of Adelaide have found that as many as 80 percent of tweets about the 2022 Russia-Ukraine invasion in its early weeks were part of a covert propaganda campaign originating from automated fake ‘bot’ accounts.
An anti-Russia propaganda campaign originating from a ‘bot army’ of fake automated Twitter accounts flooded the internet at the start of the war. The research shows of the more than 5-million tweets studied, 90.2 percent of all tweets (both bot and non-bot) came from accounts that were pro-Ukraine, with fewer than 7 percent of the accounts being classed as pro-Russian.
The university researchers also found these automated tweets had been purposely used to drive up fear amongst people targeted by them, boosting a high level of statistically measurable ‘angst’ in the online discourse.
The research team analysed a massively unprecedented 5,203,746 tweets, sent with key hashtags, in the first two weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from 24 February this year. The researchers considered predominately English-language accounts, with a calculated 1.8-million unique Twitter accounts in the dataset posting at least one English-language tweet.
The results were published in August in a research paper, titled “#IStandWithPutin versus #IStandWithUkraine: The interaction of bots and humans in discussion of the Russia/Ukraine war“, by the University of Adelaide’s School of Mathematical Science.
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