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  • Parv Jain

Why Are Fake Election Accounts Flooding X?

US election

A study by the Israeli technology company Cyabra has found a large number of fake social media accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter. These accounts are involved in the U.S. presidential election discussions, showing strong preferences for either former President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden.


According to the report, 15% of accounts that support Trump and criticize Biden are fake. For Biden-supporting accounts that criticize Trump, the percentage of fake accounts is 7%. Cyabra used machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, to analyze these accounts by reviewing their posts over two months starting March 1. They looked at popular hashtags and whether the posts were positive, negative, or neutral.


The study noted a significant increase in fake accounts during March and April, identifying 12,391 fake Trump-supporting profiles and 803 fake Biden-supporting profiles. Despite reaching out, X did not comment on the issue, nor did representatives from the White House or Trump's campaign.


Social media platforms like X have been closely watched for misinformation since 2016 when there were attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election. With the next election approaching on November 5, officials and experts are vigilant about misleading information.


The report highlights that the fake accounts supporting Trump seem to be part of a coordinated effort, using the same hashtags and posting simultaneously with messages like "Vote for Trump" and "Biden is the worst president the U.S. has ever had." This suggests a deliberate plan to influence public opinion. However, the fake accounts favoring Biden did not show signs of being coordinated in the same way.


Since being acquired by billionaire Elon Musk in 2022, X has tried to reduce the number of fake accounts. In 2022, X claimed that less than 5% of its active users were fake, though Cyabra estimated this number to be higher at 13.7%. Recently, Musk announced measures to remove these fake profiles and enforce legal actions against their creators. X also tested a new program to identify genuine users in New Zealand and the Philippines.


Key points

  1. High Number of Fake Accounts: A study by Cyabra found that 15% of accounts supporting Donald Trump and 7% of accounts supporting Joe Biden on X are fake. These accounts were analyzed over two months to assess their authenticity.

  2. Coordinated Effort Behind Trump Support: The investigation revealed that the fake accounts favoring Trump were part of a coordinated campaign, using similar tactics like posting at the same time and using the same hashtags to sway public opinion.

  3. Efforts to Combat Fake Accounts: Since its acquisition by Elon Musk, X has initiated efforts to reduce the prevalence of fake accounts. This includes a system purge announced by Musk and the testing of a new program to verify genuine users.


FAQs

Q1. What did the study find about fake accounts on X?

The study by Cyabra found that 15% of pro-Trump accounts and 7% of pro-Biden accounts on X were identified as fake.


Q2. What actions is X taking to address the issue of fake accounts?

X, under the new ownership of Elon Musk, has been working on removing bots and trolls. Musk announced a system purge and the company also tested a program to verify real users in New Zealand and the Philippines.


Q3. Why are fake accounts a concern during elections?

Fake accounts can spread misinformation, manipulate public sentiment, and disrupt the democratic process by influencing voters' perceptions and decisions.


Q4. What does "coordinated campaign" mean?

A coordinated campaign refers to organized efforts where multiple accounts work together, using similar messages and tactics, to amplify a particular viewpoint or misinformation.


Reference

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