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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

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.S. President Donald Trump Calls On California For Challenging Border Wall Declaration

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. "He knows there is no border crisis. He knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during an event at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump targeted the western U.S. state of California Tuesday for its leading role in a multi-state lawsuit contesting his declaration of a national emergency to obtain funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Twitter, Trump cited California Governor Gavin Newsome’s cancellation last week of a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, claiming, without evidence, the cancellation was due to “world record setting” cost overruns.

Trump followed with another tweet after 16 states sued his administration over his declaration of a national emergency to get funds to build a border wall. Attorneys general, led by California, filed their lawsuit late Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The complaint alleges the emergency declaration is illegal and unconstitutional, and that it harms the states and their residents by taking money away from anti-drug programs, military construction projects and other law enforcement efforts.

FILE - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (R), accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, announce their intent to sue the Trump administration over an emergency declaration to fund a border wall, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (R), accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, announce their intent to sue the Trump administration over an emergency declaration to fund a border wall, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California. VOA
 

The lawsuit asks the court to permanently prohibit the Trump administration from diverting funds from elsewhere in the government to construct a border wall, or to build a wall without Congress appropriating money for that purpose.

“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. “He knows there is no border crisis. He knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”

Becerra accused Trump of engaging in “theater” and hyping a crisis because he failed to get Congress or Mexico to pay for the wall.

An environmental group and three Texas landowners across whose property the wall would be built have already filed lawsuits.

The White House has not yet responded to the states’ lawsuit. But it had anticipated court challenges to the emergency declaration.

Trump said he declared the national emergency because he was unhappy with the amount of money Congress authorized for border security.

“I want to do it faster,” he said when he announced his declaration last week. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster” — words that could come back to haunt the administration in court.

Journalist Bob Woodward, who chronicled the first year of the Trump presidency in his best-selling book “Fear,” told Fox News he believes Trump made the national emergency declaration because “he looks strong. He looks tough to lots of people.”

FILE - A new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso, Jan. 22, 2019.
A new barrier is built along the Texas-Mexico border near downtown El Paso, Jan. 22, 2019. VOA
 

Trump centered much of his 2016 presidential campaign on a vow to build the wall and make Mexico pay for it. After he was elected, he said he never meant that Mexico would write a check for a wall, but that the money would come from the benefits from a new North American trade deal.

Also Read: Bernie Sanders Joins 2020 Presidential Election’s Marathon

Mexican leaders have said under no circumstances would they pay for a border wall. Trump has since shifted the focus on winning congressional funding. (VOA)