The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan News

39 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2017

See all articles by Marco T. Bastos

Marco T. Bastos

University College Dublin; City University London - School of Social Sciences

Dan Mercea

City University London - School of Social Sciences

Date Written: May 7, 2017

Abstract

In this paper we uncover a network of Twitterbots comprising 13,493 accounts that tweeted the U.K. E.U. membership referendum, only to disappear from Twitter shortly after the ballot. We compare active users to this set of political bots with respect to temporal tweeting behavior, the size and speed of retweet cascades, and the composition of their retweet cascades (user-to-bot vs. bot-to-bot) to evidence strategies for bot deployment. Our results move forward the analysis of political bots by showing that Twitterbots can be effective at rapidly generating small to medium-sized cascades; that the retweeted content comprises user-generated hyperpartisan news, which is not strictly fake news, but whose shelf life is remarkably short; and, finally, that a botnet may be organized in specialized tiers or clusters dedicated to replicating either active users or content generated by other bots.

Keywords: Brexit, Twitter, Fake news, Sockpuppets, Retweets cascades, Political bots

Suggested Citation

Bastos, Marco T. and Mercea, Dan, The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan News (May 7, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3034051 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3034051

Marco T. Bastos (Contact Author)

University College Dublin ( email )

Belfield, Dublin 4 4
Ireland

City University London - School of Social Sciences ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Dan Mercea

City University London - School of Social Sciences ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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