An account which expressed support for U.S. President Trump was suspended on suspicion that it was not real. According to details on the bio, the account holder, Nicole Mincey, identified herself as an African-American who was pro-Trump and who had started a retail empire dedicated to selling pro-Trump merchandise after getting disappointed with previous president Barack Obama.
After some digging by internet users the profile photo of Mincey turned out to be a tee-shirt model’s cropped image. Additionally, the profile photo of one of the biggest promoters of Mincey turned out to be an account which also had a profile photo of another tee-shirt model. The account also had a blog where most of the writers were fake users of Twitter.
Terms of service
Most of these accounts were also suspended by Twitter were suspended for violating the terms of service. Prior to their suspension these accounts had also tweeted on topics that portrayed the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration in negative light.
According to experts the use of automated accounts encourages the dissemination of fake news. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election automated social media accounts were identified as having wielded a huge influence with regards to driving trends and topics. A study conducted by computational propaganda project researchers at Oxford University, Douglas Guilbeault and Samuel Woolley, found that use of automated bots was not limited to one party or candidate.
“…more than a third of pro-Trump tweets and nearly a fifth of pro-Clinton tweets between the first and second presidential debates came from automated accounts,” wrote Douglas Guilbeault and Samuel Woolley in the computational propaganda project.
Bot creation allowed
Twitter does not however exactly discourage the creation of bots as the platforms allows the programming of automated accounts by users and this needs rudimentary coding knowledge. Most of the automated accounts are harmless and an example include Museum of Modern Art’s bot which resurfaces works taken from its archives.
But in some instances these automated accounts can be exploited to push misinformation or a narrative in huge numbers and at a fast speed with a view to giving the impression that fringe politicians or fringe issues enjoy more support than is actually the case.