Twitter bots are proliferating ahead of Sweden’s election next month — and they are 40 percent more likely to support the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats than human users. That’s the finding of the country’s Defense Research Agency, which says the social media platform has moved to suspend many of these malicious accounts. Democracies across the world need to prepare for this threat: Radical parties, with or without external help, are using and perfecting this form of digital propaganda — because it appears to work so well. It’s spreading, too. Sweden didn’t figure in this year’s list of 48 countries where Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project found evidence of social-media manipulation. In 2017, there were only 28 such countries.
If the U.S. elections threaten to turn into the “World Cup of information warfare,” as Facebook’s former Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos recently warned, the national championships are heating up, too.
In 14 of the countries highlighted in the Oxford report, among them the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Brazil, Austria and Poland, parties hired consultants to spread propaganda online. Their tools: bots and trolls that amplify fake news, make malicious comments, micro-target political messages and engage in “astroturfing,” the creation of fake evidence of grassroots support.
Full Article: The Online Twitter Trolls Are Coming for Sweden – Bloomberg.