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The research found examples of inorganic activity on both sides of the Brexit debate (the “leave” and “remain” communities). But this activity was far more prominent in “leave” conversations. According to the research, the goal of these efforts was to amplify right-wing populist views around Brexit and other political issues, such as the Yellow Vest protests in France.
“The activity we found happening on the ‘leave’ side of the Brexit conversation was quite different from the more organic appearance seen in the ‘remain’ conversation. And inorganic activity, in relation to political movements and events, can sometimes be indicative of astroturfing or the spread of disinformation,” said Andy Patel, a senior researcher with F-Secure’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence. “At the very least, our research shows there’s a global effort amongst the far-right to amplify the ‘leave’ side of the debate.”
Evidence for the conclusions cited in the research includes:
While the research included a substantial amount of data regarding Brexit, Patel says it’s only a starting point for this type of investigation, and hopes others continue to build on the findings.
“Social networks generate huge volumes of data. Finding noteworthy trends and phenomena in this data can be complicated, resource-intensive work. But social media is an important source of news and information that many people are still learning how to use. We really hope people see this research, see how much more there is to learn, and start building on our methods to create new, better understandings of what happens on social media.”
The research is available on F-Secure’s News from the Labs blog.
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