Nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said Wednesday.
Researchers culled through more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerized robots than humans.
It is too early to say conclusively which individuals or groups are behind the bot accounts, but researchers said the tweets appeared aimed at sowing division in America.
“We do know that it looks like it’s a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that,” said Kathleen Carley, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is conducting a study into bot-generated coronavirus activity on Twitter that has yet to be published.
Researchers identified more than 100 false narratives about COVID-19 that are proliferating on Twitter by accounts controlled by bots.
While their ranks have been unknown and their precise inner workings uncertain, at least everyone agrees on their name: wumao, or 50-centers, slang for the 50 Chinese cents they allegedly receive for each social media post.
Now, a new report suggests it’s time to re-imagine who these people are and how they operate.
A May 17 paper written by professors at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of California, San Diego provides the most detailed and ambitious description of China’s 50-centers available to date. It confirms the existence of a “massive secret operation” in China pumping out an estimated 488 million fabricated social media posts per year, part of an effort to “regularly distract the public and change the subject” from any policy-related issues that threaten to anger citizens enough to turn them out onto the streets.
But the research finds no evidence these 50-centers are, in fact, paid 50 cents, nor does it find they engage in a direct and angry argument with their opponents.
Instead, they are mostly bureaucrats already on the public payroll, responding to government directives at a time of heightened tension to flood social media with pro-government cheerleading.
A video that recently surfaced on the internet shows a brief look into the CCP farms even do they officially say that they work for money we all know the truth!
RETWEET! The real bot farms are in China and are botnetworks which troll on behalf of the left & Deep State!!! pic.twitter.com/bfmizxPlWj
— Deep State Exposed® (@DeepStateExpose) May 20, 2020
You know every working cell phone in China has to be registered to a real person and the government can track them all. There is zero chance this isn’t CCP run and the mainstream media can’t fool us anymore.
Customers in China who buy SIM cards or register new mobile-phone services must have their faces scanned under a new law that came into effect yesterday. China’s government says the new rule, which was passed into law back in September 2019, will “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took advantage of the open society and freedom of speech in the West and made it a tool for its own propaganda against democracy