capable of shaping our political views.
Now new research shows they were more powerful than we
accounts were around 2.5 times more influential than humans
during the 2016 US presidential debate,according
to researchers from the Australian National
studywas based on an analysis of
6.4 million tweets posted over a 90-minute duration "before,
during and after" the first televised debate between Donald
Trump and Hillary Clinton.
bots were found to be more politically engaged than humans
with higher tendencies to be pro-Republican. They were found
to be more successful at influencing opinion on the platform
than "highly influential" personalities -- such as Oprah
Winfrey -- who tended to be more pro-Democrat, the
the 1.5 million accounts that were active during the period,
only 4.8 percent were "clearly" bots, said Dr. Timothy
Graham, one of the lead researchers.
figure was really underwhelming given we've seen other
reports and studies claiming 20 to 30 percent of Twitter
accounts were bots," said Graham, adding his team's research
exposed the "biases in methodologies" which could have
"inflated those figures."
startling to find those 4.8 percent of bots were on average
2.5 times more influential than humans," he continued. "And
because of the way bots… attach themselves to influential
human users, they were more successful at getting real users
to retweet and engage with their consent."
did bots win Trump the 2016 election? Although Graham called
the research's results "robust," he was careful about coming
to a conclusion based on the study because the 90-minute
sample of Twitter activity used in it was "very small."