This week, security researchers at the British firm Comparitech announced that they’ve found a huge network of Facebook bots that operated during the 2020 election to sway public opinion.
According to the researchers, this “bot farm” was created for the sole purpose of political manipulation. It included 13,775 unique Facebook accounts that each posted about 15 times per month, totaling more than 50,000 posts a week.
“These bots… post provocative and divisive political content to incite legitimate Facebook users,” the security researchers wrote. “Each account looks like a real person at first glance, complete with a profile photo and friends list (likely consisting of other bots). To expand their reach and ensure they’re not just posting to each other’s timelines, the bots join specific Facebook groups where their posts are more likely to be seen and discussed by legitimate users.”
Lead researcher Bob Diachenko said Facebook did not respond to him when he attempted to share the team’s findings with the social media giant. However, Facebook has since released a statement saying that it will look into the issue. The company has actually been pretty diligent about cracking down on this sort of inauthentic behavior in the past, so hopefully it acts quickly now to remove this network.
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