LONDON – A huge network of fake accounts on social media has been driving anti-Muslim fake news online, to manipulate the people and influence political discourse, a new study has revealed.
“The growth among Twitter accounts and websites spreading anti-Muslim hate is alarming,” Patrik Hermansson, a researcher for Hope not Hate, told The Guardian on Sunday.
“In such a key area of public interest, it is an indication of increased interest in these views and, as each account or site grows, more people are exposed to deeply prejudiced anti-Muslim views.”
The study by anti-racist organization Hope Not Hate recorded significant growth in the social media accounts of anti-Muslims activists.
The research found that the impact of tweets from one controversial US activist, Pamela Geller is magnified by 102 bots, automated or semi-automated accounts, that automatically tweet or retweet their content.
A similar result was found in anti-Muslim twitter accounts in Britain and US between March and November, as researchers recorded a 117% growth in followers.
Following the Manchester attack, Tommy Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), gained 40,042 followers, an increase of 17%, with the majority coming within 48 hours of the attack.
Robinson gained 22,365 after the Westminster attack, getting a weekly average increase of 6,422 followers from March to November 2017.
Breitbart, run by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, was also accused of spreading fake news, as the study stated that “its reporting on Islam and Muslims is largely indistinguishable from the anti-Muslim movement’s rhetoric or even that of the far right”.
Research shows that up to 15 percent of Twitter accounts are not real people, but bots. In other words, around 50 million Twitter accounts are run by artificial intelligence.