Automated accounts spreading false news ahead of French elections

Elements attributed to Russia are trying to weaponise information through a campaign of disinformation and misinformation while trying to influence national policies through the globe.

As per the results of a study conducted by researchers from Oxford University, French voters are increasingly being flooded with false stories on social media ahead of the country’s presidential election.

The study adds evidence to complaints by officials from countries, including United States, Germany and France, that Russia is trying to replicate its meddling in the U.S. Presidential elections.

According to the study, just days ahead of the French elections, the misinformation campaign accounted for one-quarter of all political links shared on Twitter in France.

The study has defined “junk news” as deliberately false stories and those expressing “ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial” views with logical flaws and opinions passed along as facts.

“French voters are sharing better quality information than what many U.S. voters shared and almost as much quality news and information as German users share,” states the study by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Incidentally, Facebook has recently suspended 30,000 suspected automated accounts in France and has characterized the move as an objective against spammers.

On Twitter however, which allows automated accounts, many of the same accounts that once promoted Donald Trump in his U.S. campaign last year have now turned their focus on France and are spewing out conspiracy theories and far-right points of view, said Limonier and Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent and now a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.

“A contingent of the Trump campaign supporters we believe to be ‘bots’ and accounts from Russia have shifted to Germany,” said Watts. “If I had to estimate, about one-third of previous Trump supporter accounts are now trying to influence the German election.”

As per the results of another study published this week from Bakamo, a private research group shows a similar result: a big percentage of fake news is showing up on the social media in France with a significant number of fake news stories being “exposed to Russian influence,” said the Bakamo study.

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