The 2016 elections proved to foreign countries that their social media meddling could have a tremendous effect. Twitter has finally made attempts to solve its bot problems, but there is no sure fire way to really fix the issue.
While Russia was the main offender during the ’16 and ’18 elections, it appears that others, at least loosely connected to other these nations, are trying to impact dialogue within the United States on social media. According to a report from NBC, Bots run by a pro-Saudi Arabian group looked to minimize the findings of the Mueller Report.
According to writer Ben Collins:
“Almost all of the since-removed accounts, most of which only posted about 30 times each, attacked the press and lamented how the ‘Russiagate hoax’ affected Trump’s presidency. Many of the accounts copied verbatim tweets from other pro-Trump accounts without attributing those tweets to the original poster.”
Foreign powers who use Twitter bots typically face little blow-back. Security Expert, Clint Watts, explains, “Whether this is a government or a pro-Saudi influence firm, it shows how easy it is to do and that there’s no cost or consequences for it. These are made to influence Americans or Western audiences.”
The Saudi government has a vested interest in keeping Trump and his administration in power. The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman, has a close relationship with Trump Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner. Kushner allegedly advised the Crown Prince on how to handle the fallout from the Jamal Khashoggi murder. Whether this group, which is trying to manipulate social media discussions around the Mueller report, are directly tied to the Saudi government or not, is anyone’s guess at this point.
A Twitter spokesperson told NBC, “We suspended a network of accounts and others associated with it for engaging in platform manipulation — a violation of the Twitter Rules.” The suspension came, however, after the bots were able to spread their message,
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Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.