DebunkEU.org is a think tank that researches disinformation and works to stop it. They work with partners in different countries to try and figure out the best ways to stop false information from spreading. One of the issues they face is that it can be very time consuming to fact check everything, and it’s also expensive.
Bots and trolls are fake accounts on social media that are used to make a issue seem more important than it is or to make people believe something that isn’t true.
DebunkEU.org analysts Aleksandra Michałowska-Kubś and Jakub Kubś conducted an analysis of social media posts related to sanctions imposed on the transit of goods to Kaliningrad.
The data scientists at Debunk.eu used NamSor machine learning classification to assign a likely country of origin for the social account names (real or fake).
Automated analysis of accounts’ country of origin
An analysis of accounts which have interacted with ‘LRT English’ Facebook posts has highlighted the wide variety of countries of origin. In some cases of manual review, it appeared that there was a mismatch between the username and account URL, generic account profile images, lots of locked accounts and the area from which the account was managed. This was mainly the case with fake accounts whose creators wanted to hide their identities. Nevertheless, in our opinion, in most cases the usernames corresponded to their geographic-cultural background.
The Namsor application was used to automatically check the country of origin of the analysed accounts. For the purposes of the study, we narrowed down the number of accounts to those for which the program specified an 80% accuracy. This criterion allowed us to select 2712 unique accounts which left 3514 interactions. Based on the data that we observed, the analysed posts about Kaliningrad gained responses from 91 countries. The results are presented on the map below.
World map highlighting the countries of origin of analyzed Facebook accountsPosts related to Kaliningrad sanctions targeted by social media bots and trolls, Debunk.eu, September 2022
The highest activity in relation to posts about Kaliningrad came from, respectively, Poland, Lithuania, Nigeria, Kenya and Bangladesh. While in the case of Lithuania and its immediate neighbour, Poland, the increased interest in the topic can be easily explained, the high number of interactions from African and South Asian countries is potentially more unnatural. Accounts from these countries are typically rarely engaged with content published on ‘LRT English’.
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This blog post used text-davinci-002 for summarization and Dall-E for illustration based on the text “bots and trolls in social media”.
NamSor™ Applied Onomastics is a European vendor of sociolinguistics software (NamSor sorts names). NamSor mission is to help understand international flows of money, ideas and people. We proudly support Gender Gap Grader.