Twitter, Bots and the Russia-Ukraine Event
14 September 2022 - 2:00 pm
A study by researchers based at The University of Adelaide in Australia titled “#IStandWithPutin versus #IStandWithUkraine: The interaction of bots and humans in discussion of the Russia/Ukraine war” was published (mirror PDF) in August 2022.
The study used various methods of analysing the collected data they got via the Twitter API (v2). They collected all tweets, quotes and replies containing case-insensitive versions of the following hashtags…
So they checked for all 6 of those, with and without the “I”, and regardless if they were in capital letters, lower-case or a mixture, so 12 hashtags in all. They collected those tweets between the dates February 23rd 2022 00:00:00 UTC (the day before the “invasion”) and March 8th 2022 23:59:59 UTC.
Therefore this data analysed was from right at the beginning of the “invasion”, and is important as it shaped and directed the online discourse from the start.
Once again I will make the point that I am not taking a side here. I support neither Russian or Ukrainian Governments or their military activity. We have previously looked at outside interests and influences regarding Ukraine, and Russia, but what is interesting about this, is the analysis performed by this team provides us with some useful insights, bearing in mind that all these statistical analyses and data driven conclusions will have limitations based on confounding factors (known and unknown), biases, limitations of technology and access etc etc.
What they have demonstrated is that bots on social media do influence non-bot accounts. They demonstrated that bots do have an effect on emotions in online discussions.
We know this. We also know why social media companies want regular non-bot accounts, i.e. actual human beings to jump though all kinds of hoops to prove their identity, just to be able to have an account, but also why they tolerate these gigantic botnets using up valuable server and bandwidth that these companies are allegedly paying for. In case it isn’t 100% crystal clear however, I will state it for the record.
Social media companies, not limited to Twitter obviously, want real human beings to prove who they are, so they can harvest 100% real data. They are not just selling advertising space, or even just your personal information although they obviously are doing those things. They are monitoring public sentiment and reporting it back, or providing tools and access for Governments and their associated NGOs to analyse, checking how their “information warfare” campaigns are going, seeing if they are effective, monitoring for resistance, finding out if they need to tweak it and how.
“Social media is a critical tool in information warfare”
That is a line from the study we’re looking at. It’s not just about putting information out there though. The mainstream media have been providing that service for a very long time. What social media does is provide the two-way flow of information, so they can monitor the effectiveness of their output. This is relatively new, and is one of the main reasons the progress to the stated goals of the World Economic Forum et al has been exponential in recent years. The other purpose it serves is to create the illusion that everyone has a voice, we all have equal access and a platform to make our position known, share our thoughts and opinions and feeds the idea of a global democracy.
Except it’s not true, not anymore. Just like mainstream media is a controlled system that generally only permits approved narrative supporting content by approved spokespersons, with the odd exception that is drowned out by the “consensus” of the rest, social media has become another controlled system, where only globalist narrative supporting content is allowed to gain any traction.
The Adelaide study is worth reading, as while it does take a mainstream stance on the “conflict”, it is quite open with its findings, which are that out of the 5,203,746 tweets they analysed…
90.16% of accounts fell into the ‘ProUkraine’ category, while only 6.80% fell into the ‘ProRussia’ category.Page 4 – https://arxiv.org/pdf/2208.07038.pdf
They also observed that the ‘ProUkraine’ category had a significantly higher proportion of “Astroturfing” bots. That term, “Astroturfing” in relation to online bots is explained by Wikipedia as…
Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots”. The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a “true” or “natural” grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a “fake” or “artificial” appearance of support.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing
So while all bots are essentially fake users by definition, “astroturf” bots are there intended to fake organic grassroots movements, masking the actual source of the information, be that Governments, large self-interested NGOs and Foundations that have an agenda served by the promotion of whatever the bots are disseminating. Ukraine was disproportionally represented not only in the overall “bot” category to the tune of over 90%, but also utilised this cynical misrepresentation as a tactic more too.
Obviously it is clear that the Ukrainian Government is not outgunning Russia in the “information warfare” by such a huge margin on its own.
So what’s the takeaway? That they are all at it. They are all part of the use of “social media” to emotionally manipulate the humans that are on these networks. I do have an article in the works regarding the science of behaviour modification, AKA “nudging”, and how Governments and globalist organisations have been using it for years, and the usage is increasing as they find more and more ways to invade the minds of the public, and the public generally becomes more and more docile and pliant. There’s a lot of research so it’s taking time, but in the meantime, stay strong and keep your wits about you as there’s plenty more disinformation coming our way.