Political parties spreading fake news over social media: Oxford study

A report from Oxford University in the UK has found that the problem is growing at a large scale.

PTI
London, Publish Date: Jul 23 2018 1:03AM | Updated Date: Jul 23 2018 1:03AM
Political parties spreading fake news over social media: Oxford studyRepresentational Pic

Government agencies and political parties are investing millions of dollars to exploit social media platforms for spreading fake news, exercising censorship, and undermining people's trust in media, public institutions and science, an Oxford study has found.

Manipulating public opinion over social media platforms has emerged as a critical threat around the world, despite efforts to combat computational propaganda, scientists say.

A report from Oxford University in the UK has found that the problem is growing at a large scale.

"The number of countries where formally organised social media manipulation occurs has greatly increased, from 28 to 48 countries globally," said Samantha Bradshaw, co-author of the report.

"The majority of growth comes from political parties who spread disinformation and junk news around election periods," Bradshaw said.

"There are more political parties learning from the strategies deployed during Brexit and the US 2016 Presidential election: more campaigns are using bots, junk news, and disinformation to polarise and manipulate voters," she said.

This is despite efforts by governments in many democracies introducing new legislation designed to combat fake news on the internet.

"The problem with this is that these 'task forces' to combat fake news are being used as a new tool to legitimise censorship in authoritarian regimes," said Phil Howard, lead researcher on the project.

"At best, these types of task forces are creating counter-narratives and building tools for citizen awareness and fact-checking," Howard said.

Another challenge is the evolution of the mediums individuals use to share news and information.

"There is evidence that disinformation campaigns are moving on to chat applications and alternative platforms," said Bradshaw.

Automated bot accounts still continue to be a well-used tactic. Online commentators and fake accounts are used to spread pro-party messages, as well as being used to strategically share content or post using keywords to game algorithms and get certain content trending.

They are also being used to report legitimate content and accounts on a mass scale, causing them to be taken down temporarily.

"We suspect new innovation will continue to emerge as platforms and governments take legal and regulatory steps to curb this type of activity," said Howard.

Overall, the use of organised social media manipulation campaigns is a big business.

"We estimate that tens of millions of dollars are spent on this type of activity," said Howard.

 "Some of the money may be spent on legitimate advertising on social media, but there is certainly a growing industry for fake accounts, online commentators, and political bots," he said.  

Latest News

  1. Specially-abled man from Bihar reunited with family after 18 years: Police
  2. Specially-abled man from Bihar reunited with family after 18 years: Police
  1. Two army men injured in Pulwama grenade attack
  2. Two army men injured in Pulwama grenade attack
  1. Forces launch CASO in Pulwama village after grenade attack, firing
  2. Forces launch CASO in Pulwama village after grenade attack, firing
  1. BJP front-runner in Jammu civic polls, Congress ahead in Kashmir valley
  2. BJP front-runner in Jammu civic polls, Congress ahead in Kashmir valley
  1. Bandipora woman death: Husband, in-laws booked for abetment to suicide
  2. Bandipora woman death: Husband, in-laws booked for abetment to suicide
  1. BJP leading in JMC elections, independents fare well in Kishtwar
  2. BJP leading in JMC elections, independents fare well in Kishtwar
  1. World’s longest sea bridge between China-Hong Kong to open on October 24
  2. World’s longest sea bridge between China-Hong Kong to open on October 24
  1. Khashoggi death: don't give Saudi Arabia 'licence to kill', says RSF
  2. Khashoggi death: don't give Saudi Arabia 'licence to kill', says RSF
  1. Landslide blocks Kashmir highway in Ramsoo
  2. Landslide blocks Kashmir highway in Ramsoo
  1. Man who played Ravana killed after saving several lives in Punjab train accident
  2. Man who played Ravana killed after saving several lives in Punjab train accident
  1. Man 'stoned to death by monkeys', family wants FIR to be registered against them
  2. Man 'stoned to death by monkeys', family wants FIR to be registered against them
  1. Independents bag all 13 wards of Kupwara municipal body
  2. Independents bag all 13 wards of Kupwara municipal body
  1. Local bodies’ elections in Kashmir only a ‘sham’: Saifuddin Soz
  2. Local bodies’ elections in Kashmir only a ‘sham’: Saifuddin Soz
  1. KCCI cites Internet blockade, seeks extension in filing GST returns
  2. KCCI cites Internet blockade, seeks extension in filing GST returns
  1. SMC polls: Former Congress MP Tariq Karra's wife loses from Ward 31
  2. SMC polls: Former Congress MP Tariq Karra's wife loses from Ward 31
  1. Multiple blasts rock Kabul polling stations: official, witnesses
  2. Multiple blasts rock Kabul polling stations: official, witnesses
  1. JK polls: BJP fails to open account in Ladakh region
  2. JK polls: BJP fails to open account in Ladakh region
  1. Minister denies Railways' lapse in Amritsar tragedy
  2. Minister denies Railways' lapse in Amritsar tragedy
  1. Amritsar survivors, families recall night of horror
  2. Amritsar survivors, families recall night of horror
  1. North Korean hacker group stole $571 mn in crypto attacks
  2. North Korean hacker group stole $571 mn in crypto attacks
  1. Delhi court frames molestation charges against R K Pachauri
  2. Delhi court frames molestation charges against R K Pachauri
  1. Civic polls: BJP emerges winner in four south Kashmir districts, set to control four municipal bodies
  2. Civic polls: BJP emerges winner in four south Kashmir districts, set to control four municipal bodies
  1. Congress party gets majority in two municipal committees in Bandipora in north Kashmir
  2. Congress party gets majority in two municipal committees in Bandipora in north Kashmir
  1. Independents sweep Handwara municipal body polls results
  2. Independents sweep Handwara municipal body polls results
  1. Baramulla Municipal council: Congress wins 12 seats, BJP 6
  2. Baramulla Municipal council: Congress wins 12 seats, BJP 6
  1. Municipal committee Ganderbal: Independents win 13 wards; BJP, Congress win 2 each
  2. Municipal committee Ganderbal: Independents win 13 wards; BJP, Congress win 2 each
  1. Ramban municipal committee polls: Congress, BJP and Independents win two wards each
  2. Ramban municipal committee polls: Congress, BJP and Independents win two wards each
  1. Kokernag municipal committee polls: Congress wins ten wards
  2. Kokernag municipal committee polls: Congress wins ten wards
  1. Kerala MLA Abdul Razak dies of heart attack
  2. Kerala MLA Abdul Razak dies of heart attack
  1. Mattan municipal committee polls: BJP wins 7, Congress two wards
  2. Mattan municipal committee polls: BJP wins 7, Congress two wards
  1. Banihal municipal committee: Congress wins all four wards, BJP draws blank
  2. Banihal municipal committee: Congress wins all four wards, BJP draws blank
  1. Kargil municipal committee: Congress wins 5, Independents 8 wards
  2. Kargil municipal committee: Congress wins 5, Independents 8 wards
  1. Congress wins all 13 wards of Leh municipal committee, BJP draws blank
  2. Congress wins all 13 wards of Leh municipal committee, BJP draws blank
  1. Congress wins 20 out of 25 wards in Anantnag municipal council
  2. Congress wins 20 out of 25 wards in Anantnag municipal council
  1. BJP candidate gets 8 out of nine votes, wins ward 74 of Srinagar Municipal Corporation
  2. BJP candidate gets 8 out of nine votes, wins ward 74 of Srinagar Municipal Corporation
  1. US 'saddened' by confirmed Khashoggi death: White House
  2. US 'saddened' by confirmed Khashoggi death: White House
  1. Police begin probe as train mows down 58 Dussehra revellers in Punjab
  2. Police begin probe as train mows down 58 Dussehra revellers in Punjab
  1. Khashoggi died in fight at consulate, admits Saudi Arabia
  2. Khashoggi died in fight at consulate, admits Saudi Arabia
  1. Counting begins for Jammu and Kashmir municipal polls
  2. Counting begins for Jammu and Kashmir municipal polls
x
This site uses cookies to deliver our services and to show you relevant news and ads. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Service.That's Fine