It’s relatively easy to hire or deploy an army of automated or semi-automated Twitter accounts, aka Twitter bots, that can disseminate a particular message so much faster pace than any individual user could, reports AJ Vicens.

Twitter won’t reveal how many automated bots… are part of its approximately 313 million monthly active users. But the site provides a perfect platform for deploying what are known as “active measures,” Russian methods of information warfare Rid described as designed for “easy exploitation—high impact,” says Vicens.

During the 2016 campaign season, for example, Twitter followers often unwittingly retweeted deliberately false information from unknown sources, which further polarized the pubic and overstated Trump’s actual support.

“Creating systems to detect bots, and whoever’s behind them,” Vicens points out, “is a complicated process for a number of reasons: Users are able to create false IP addresses to mask their original locations, and Twitter limits the data available to researchers, plus there’s the ideal of a free internet.”

And “it seems unlikely that the state-sponsored disinformation variety will be stopped anytime soon. …Nu Wexler, a former public policy spokesperson for Twitter, tells Mother Jones that as long as users aren’t violating Twitter’s content rules, they’re not going to be censored.”

Read more at Mother Jones

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