Researchers at the University of Adelaide have published a landmark paper on the activities of bot accounts on Twitter related to the conflict in Ukraine. These Australian findings are truly staggering – of 5.2 million tweets on the social media network from February 23 to March 8, between 60 to 80% were shared by fake accounts. What’s more, 90% of those posts were pro-Ukraine.
In particular, these accounts pushed the hashtags #IStandWithUkraine, #IStandWithZelenskyy, and #ISupportUkraine, and myths like the ‘Ghost of Kiev’, a fictional Ukrainian fighter pilot who is farcically alleged to have taken down 40 Russian jets within hours of the military operation commencing.
Significant spikes in activity were recorded at key points in the initial stages of the fighting, such as Russia’s capture of Kherson on March 2, and the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant on March 4.
The accounts identified were overwhelmingly English language, leading the researchers to conclude these fake users sought to “drive more disruption in English-speaking countries” and “influence a variety of user groups.” Despite the significant focus on English, Ukrainian bots also employed the Russian language to “cause more disruption” in the country.