As Silicon Valley flounders for a solution against disinformation on social media, fake accounts dominate Twitter.
According to a Pew Research Center study, an estimated 66 percent of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts, rather than human beings. That number is even higher for certain media outlets, climbing to 89 percent for websites relying purely on news aggregation.
Despite partisan accusations of online bot activity benefiting certain political parties, Pew’s study found equal amounts of tweeted links to conservative and liberal websites.
“Suspected bots share roughly 41 percent of links to political sites shared primarily by conservatives and 44 percent of links to political sites shared primarily by liberals—a difference that is not statistically significant,” reads the study. “By contrast, suspected bots share 57 percent to 66 percent of links from news and current events sites shared primarily by an ideologically mixed or centrist human audience.”
“By extension, these automated accounts are less likely to share links from sites with ideologically conservative or liberal human audiences,” the study continued. “In addition, right-left differences in the proportion of bot traffic are not substantial.”
Twitter, and other Silicon Valley FANG companies, remain marred in a perpetual PR crisis in the wake of the 2016 election, wherein D.C. lawmakers have demanded accountability for the spread of Russian disinformation through their network.
Pew’s study occurred several months before Twitter announced its new policy. On Friday, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey launched a collaborative study to curb cyber-bullying throughout its network.