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“Brilliant, Boris”: Britain’s Bots On Guard Of Democracy


"Brilliant, Boris": Britain's Bots On Guard Of Democracy

Click to see full-size image

On April 25th, Boris Johnson announced that he was ready to return to work, together with a post stating that says the Conservatives are “the party of the NHS.”

That is all good and well, until one glances at the comment section, filled with replies with a syntax error.

Evidently, the alleged Russian bots are under quarantine, or something of the sort, since the British support bots appear to be taking center stage, and they appear to be malfunctioning.

This isn’t the first time something of the sort happened, and the BBC explains it with “real people acting like bots.”

Back in November 2019, the same thing was observed.

"Brilliant, Boris": Britain's Bots On Guard Of Democracy

Click to see full-size image

Some of the Boris “supporters” might actually be the result of automated activity, although the mainstream version is that there is no indication that anyone inside the prime minister’s campaign is behind it.

William Dance, a linguistics and fake news expert at Lancaster University says Johnson’s page shows “signs of inauthentic behaviour, with repetitious and duplicate comments.”

Even if most of the pro-Boris and anti-Boris messages aren’t actually posted by bots, that doesn’t mean automated campaigns aren’t a problem, says William Dance.

“Facebook has a major bot problem” he says. “In the first quarter of 2019 alone, Facebook removed over 2 billion inauthentic accounts. This is was almost as many takedowns as Facebook has daily active users.”

The thing is that if even actual users pretend to be bots, this can simply be used to hide the activity of actual bot accounts.

And still, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.

Months ago, a tweet by Boris Johnson, before he became prime minister, received thousands of likes and retweets and most of them were very obviously fake accounts – thousands of them had no followers, no tweets and were brand new accounts.

"Brilliant, Boris": Britain's Bots On Guard Of Democracy

Click to see full-size image

And, most recently, John O’Connell, founder of FRW Anti-Racism Group, reported that 128 fake NHS Staff accounts had been discovered, attempting to stoke “Herd Mentality.”

O’Connell contacted the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, to provide the information, but it declined to receive it.

It appears that the UK government’s, apparently inept attempts to utilize bots to push forward its narrative are continuous, and not simply isolated cases.




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