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BizReport : Social Marketing : October 18, 2016

Oxford University study reveals presidential battle of the bots on Twitter

A University of Oxford study has found that, while Donald Trump may have appeared to win the war of words on Twitter following the latest Presidential debate, nearly a third of all those pro-Trump Tweets may actually have come from bots.

by Helen Leggatt

So, apparently pro-Trump Twitter bots are a thing. The University of Oxford study, reported by the BBC, revealed that while Trump may have looked popular on Twitter following the September 26 debate, more than half a million (576,178 / 32.7%) of all pro-Trump posts made the evening of the debate and during the next four days were made by bots.

That's not to say that Hillary Clinton didn't have her own team of bots rallying for her cause. But, the study found that her bot brigade Tweeted just 136,639 times during the same period.

However, the research did reveal that even when bot activity was filtered out, Trump still remained dominant on Twitter. Furthermore, researchers are keen to emphasis that the results may not be precise due to filtering that could have identified genuine accounts as bots. Identification of bots partially relied on a high Tweet volume (200 times during the researched time period or an average of 50 times a day).

However, as Caroline Sinders, ex-IBM researcher who now works for Buzzfeed told the BBC, "Real people can write a script and use an algorithm to tweet regularly with specific responses, or humans can tweet content that looks almost identical to a series of bots flooding a political hashtag. Also, political commentators or people eagerly engaged in the political debate could also tweet this many times."

Tags: bots, presidential elections, social media, Twitter

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