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High Percentage of Robot-generated Fake Tweets likely to Influence Public Opinion before upcoming US Presidential Elections

Researchers have found that robots, rather than people have produced 3.8 million tweets

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US Presidential Candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Wikimedia
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Washington, November 5, 2016:  Just before US Election polls, a high percentage of the political discussion was created by software robots or social bots on popular social media site Twitter, that may be influencing public opinion, warned a new study.

According to PTI, researchers from the University of Southern California’s (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering in the US worry that these robot-generated tweets are likely to distort political online discussion as well as there is a possibility that it might impact election outcomes.

[bctt tweet=”Researchers found that Republican candidate Donald Trump’s robot-produced tweets were almost uniformly positive, boosting the candidate’s popularity. ” username=””]

“Software robots masquerading as humans are influencing the political discourse on social media as never before and could threaten the very integrity of the 2016 US presidential election,” said research leader at the USC, Emilio Ferrara.

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Ferrara and Alessandro Bessi, who are visiting research assistants at USC have analysed 20 million election-related tweets created between September 16 and October 21, by leveraging state-of-the art bot detection algorithms, mentioned PTI report.

While delving deep, they found that robots, rather than people have produced 3.8 million tweets, or 19 percent. Social bots also accounted for 400,000 of the 2.8 million individual users, or nearly 15 percent of the population under study.

After analysing, researchers have found that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s robot-produced tweets were almost uniformly positive, that is boosting the candidate’s popularity.

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On contrary to that, only half of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s bot tweets were positive, with the other half criticising the nominee, mentioned PTI.

It is often impossible to determine who creates these tweets, due to the social bots’ sophistication.

According to the report, political parties, local, national and foreign governments and even single individuals with adequate resources could obtain the operational capabilities and technical tools to deploy armies of social bots and affect the directions of online political conversation, said the researchers.

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The “master puppeteers” behind influence bots, often create fake Twitter and Facebook profiles, they said, mentioned PTI.

“They do so by stealing online pictures, giving them fictitious names, and cloning biographical information from existing accounts,” they added.

“These bots have become so sophisticated that they can tweet, retweet, share content, comment on posts, ‘like’ candidates, grow their social influence by following legit human accounts and even engage in human-like conversations,” researchers further added.

– prepared by NewsGram with inputs from PTI.

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U.N. Donald Trump’s Impeachment may be Possible: Key Lawmaker

Comey testified to a House panel on Friday about his role in 2016 election-related investigations of Trump's campaign.

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House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., arrives for a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 7, 2017, on oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. VOA

A key U.S. lawmaker said Sunday that Democrats in the House of Representatives could pursue impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump, saying that the U.S. leader had “surrounded himself with crooks” and was part of a broad “conspiracy against the American people” to win the 2016 election.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat set to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the chamber next month, told CNN that lawmakers have to decide “how important” allegations are against Trump, but should pursue impeachment charges “only for serious offenses.”

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In these 2018 photos, Paul Manafort leaves federal court in Washington, left and attorney Michael Cohen leaves federal court in New York. VOA

Nadler offered his thoughts two days after federal prosecutors accused former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, “in coordination with and at the direction” of Trump, of orchestrating $280,000 in hush money payments shortly before the 2016 election to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump so they would stay silent before Election Day.

Nadler said that if proven, the allegations against Trump were “certainly impeachable offenses.” That could lead to his removal from office, if the Senate were to convict him by at least a two-thirds vote, a doubtful proposition with Republican control of the Senate continuing in the Congress that takes office in January.

Nadler said lawmakers will have “to look at all this,” along with weighing what special counsel Robert Mueller concludes about allegations that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to help him win and that, as president, Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the ongoing 19-month probe.

The U.S. Justice Department has a standing guideline against indicting sitting presidents, although they can be charged after leaving office. Nadler said, however, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the president from being indicted. Nobody should be above the law.”

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Stormy Daniels speaks during a ceremony for her in West Hollywood, Calif.. VOA

Trump has dismissed the latest allegations against him in connection with the payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal and allegations of Trump campaign contacts with Russia to help him win the election.

He used Twitter on Monday to repeat his frequent statement of “NO COLLUSION” between his campaign and Russia.

“So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,” Trump said. He went on to say “it was done correctly and there would not even be a fine,” further adding that if there were any problems then Cohen would be the one who was liable.

“Cohen just trying to get his sentence reduced,” Trump said.

Trump has called for the end to the Mueller probe, but a Republican lawmaker, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, told ABC News, “I’ve always supported the Mueller investigation and continue to do so because I think it’s in the best interest of everyone involved, including, by the way, the president.”

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Seven-page government sentencing document for Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer. VOA

Aside from Cohen, who is set to be sentenced Wednesday and faces several years of imprisonment, Mueller so far has secured guilty pleas or won convictions of Trump’s first national security adviser, his former campaign manager, his former deputy campaign manager, a foreign policy adviser and other lesser figures.

On Sunday, Trump assailed former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, whom Trump fired while he was heading the Russia investigation before Mueller was named to lead the probe.

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Former FBI Director James Comey, with his attorney, David Kelley, right, speaks to reporters after a day of testimony before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Comey testified to a House panel on Friday about his role in 2016 election-related investigations of Trump’s campaign and that of his challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state.

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“On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked,” Trump claimed on Twitter.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!” (VOA)