CMU Study Shows Nearly Half Of Tweets Protesting Stay-At-Home Order Are Bots

Photo credit AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Research out of Carnegie Mellon University shows that some Twitter accounts talking about “reopening American” could be bots.

CMU says much of the talk around the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders is being heightened by “misinformation campaigns that use convincing bots.”

Researchers have been analyzing activity around the pandemic and since January have collected more than 200 million tweets talking about the coronavirus.

“Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots.”

Research is ongoing and information from Facebook Reddit and YouTube have been added.

“We’re seeing up to two times as much bot activity as we’d predicted based on previous natural disasters, crises, and elections,” said Kathleen Carley, professor in the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research and director of the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) and Center for Informed Democracy & Social - cybersecurity (IDeaS.)

Carley says that one of the reasons for the uptick in bots is that people have more time on their hands and since the pandemic is global more people are interested.

“Because it’s global, it’s being used by various countries and interest groups as an opportunity to meet political agendas,” she said. 

The research team uses artificial intelligence to help determine what accounts are bots.

“Tweeting more frequently than is humanly possible, or appearing to be in one country and then another a few hours later is indicative of a bot,” Carley said.