Great Britain

Automated bots are peddling dangerous lies about coronavirus on social media

COVID BOTS

DANGEROUS lies about Covid are being peddled by automated bot accounts, a report reveals.

Social media sites have become the target of extremist groups out to spread misinformation and fear.

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Researchers tracked the authors of all tweets about the anti-mask movement posted last month. Of 36,974 posts, 2,588 came from bot accounts.

Seven in ten accounts were pushing either hard left or extreme right-wing content, the probe by Mainstream UK found.

Chairman Ian Austin said: “Fake accounts promoting fake news about Covid-19 represent a real danger to public health.

“They are spreading the bogus claims of the cranks who want us to believe Covid is not a real danger and we should ‘take a stand’ by not wearing masks.”

The researchers found that while 40 per cent of bots were active for less than six months, they still generated high levels of content. A quarter made more than 50,000 posts, some as many as 300,000.

Lord Austin wants the Government to use its Online Harms Bill to ensure tech giants target those who fuel hatred.

At the end of last month more than 10,000 anti-mask demonstrators gathered in Hyde Park. London, to brand Covid a hoax.

They heard speeches from conspiracy theorists David Icke and Piers Corbyn, brother of former Labour leader Jeremy.

Previous research has suggested bots account for between five and 15 per cent of all activity on Twitter. The company disputes these claims and says it has got better at identifying and removing automated accounts.

Anti-mask mob clash with cops as they flood Trafalgar Square to demonstrate against coronavirus vaccine and UK lockdown

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