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The political army of bots “won” the social network of Ukraine

Армия политических ботов "покорила" соцсети УкраиныThe government of Ukraine pays insufficient attention to the fight against disinformation, the researchers note.

Ukraine has an extensive system of digital propaganda, which operates in social media and includes systems collect large amounts of data and tools to manipulate public opinion.

About this stated in the study, the Oxford project on algorithms, propaganda and digital policy, the results of which were announced at the conference by the National democratic Institute of the USA on the occasion of the week of combating disinformation.

“A remarkable study of how propaganda and hybrid war threaten democracy: social media and bots,” said Twitter Director of government relations, National democratic Institute of the United States.

Researchers have discovered how to operate bots in domestic politics and the media in nine countries, including Ukraine, and gave examples of typical information campaigns.

We have a digital propaganda is used to discredit opponents in political infighting, manipulation of public opinion in the interests of various businesses and political groups. The domestic market for digital advocacy online in Ukraine is quite extensive, but mostly hidden.

“At the same time, Ukraine is suffering from the propaganda that Russia is spreading. In Ukraine, still many people use fake accounts that are supported manually, because they are quite cheap. Political auto-bots gaining popularity with the development of technologies,” the study says.

Political bots are algorithms acting in social media written to the copy of real people and to manipulate public opinion, can act in all social media in Ukraine. The only difference is the cost and popularity of the services, the researchers said. Easier and cheaper just to use bots was in VK, since the network has a poor safety regulation and allows mass registration of new users. Second place belongs to Twitter, which is not very effective against suspicious activity. The researchers estimated that about 15% of all Twitter users are actually bots.

As an example, the external computer propaganda the authors of the study remind media activity in response to the crash of the Malaysian Boeing MH17 that occurred in the uncontrolled territories of Donbas 17 July 2014 and claimed the lives of 298 people.

“Around the disaster we had lots of conspiracy theories, as, for example, the statement that the Boeing was shot down by military aircraft. This theory first appeared on Twitter the so-called Spanish Manager from Boryspil. About the news of a military plane immediately picked up by Russian media, like RT and TASS, it was used at a press conference in July 2014, the Ministry of defense of Russia”, – says the publication.

The Ministry of information policy of Ukraine have proven that this Twitter bot was created during the Bramidan to spread anti-Ukrainian slogans. In September 2016 joint international investigation proved that Boeing was hit by a Beech from the territory controlled by Pro-Russian separatists

The government of Ukraine pays insufficient attention to the fight against misinformation, researchers suggest and involve cooperation with Ukrainian companies, which could track the bots and not real participants in the networks.

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