Headline RoundupMarch 6th, 2023

2024 Election: Thousands of Twitter Bots Praise Trump, Target DeSantis and Haley

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Thousands of fake Twitter accounts are praising former President Donald Trump and criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, an Israeli tech firm said. 

The Details: The firm, Cyabra, told the Associated Press (Lean Left bias) that it did not know who created the network of bots, but they were likely created within the U.S. in the last 11 months. The bots were reportedly discovered by identifying patterns in account pages, follower lists, and posts. 

For Context: Haley and DeSantis are two high-profile alternatives to Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. DeSantis polls higher than other challengers but has not announced his candidacy, while Haley has announced her campaign and receives about as much support as former Vice President Mike Pence. The bots’ presence echoes the prevalence of fake accounts in 2016 and 2020, when Russia and others attempted to influence U.S. voters online. 

How the Media Covered It: Coverage somewhat sparse across the spectrum and largely focused on AP’s report. Some coverage differed on the political impact of bots. While AP said bots “remain a potent force in shaping online political discussion,” and the New York Post (Lean Right bias) said Russian hackers “perfected” social media algorithm manipulation in 2016, National Review (Right bias) noted a recent study which found that Russia’s 2016 efforts “had no measurable impact in changing minds or influencing voter behavior.”

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