Government 'Cyber Troops' Manipulate Facebook and Twitter


Governments around the world are enlisting “cyber troops” who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

Adding to growing evidence of government-sponsored efforts to use online tools to influence politics, researchers found 29 countries using social media to shape opinion domestically or with foreign audiences. The tactics are deployed by authoritarian regimes, but also democratically-elected governments, the authors said.

“Social media makes propaganda campaigns much stronger and potentially more effective than in the past,” said Samantha Bradshaw, the report’s lead author and a researcher at Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research Project. “I don’t think people realize how much governments are using these tools to reach them. It’s a lot more hidden.”

Governments around the world are enlisting “cyber troops” who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

Adding to growing evidence of government-sponsored efforts to use online tools to influence politics, researchers found 29 countries using social media to shape opinion domestically or with foreign audiences. The tactics are deployed by authoritarian regimes, but also democratically-elected governments, the authors said.

“Social media makes propaganda campaigns much stronger and potentially more effective than in the past,” said Samantha Bradshaw, the report’s lead author and a researcher at Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research Project. “I don’t think people realize how much governments are using these tools to reach them. It’s a lot more hidden.”

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