Social media bots helped failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton more than President Trump during the 2016 presidential election, according to a paper from an MIT associate professor.
In a paper, Monday, Tauhid Zaman, an associate professor of operations management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, revealed that “Trump bots were far less effective at shifting people’s opinions than the smaller proportion of bots backing Hillary Clinton.”
“Given much of the news reporting, we were expecting the bots to help Trump – but they didn’t. In a network without bots, the average human user had a pro-Clinton score of 42 out of 100. With the bots, though, we had found the average human had a pro-Clinton score of 58,” Zaman declared. “That shift was a far larger effect than we had anticipated, given how few and unconnected the bots were. The network structure had amplified the bots’ power.”
“We wondered what had made the Clinton bots more effective than the Trump bots. Closer inspection showed that the 260 bots supporting Trump posted a combined 113,498 tweets, or 437 tweets per bot. However, the 150 bots supporting Clinton posted 96,298 tweets, or 708 tweets per bot,” he continued. “It appeared that the power of the Clinton bots came not from their numbers, but from how often they tweeted. We found that most of what the bots posted were retweets of the candidates or other influential individuals. So they were not really crafting original tweets, but sharing existing ones.”
“A small number of very active bots can actually significantly shift public opinion,” Zaman concluded.
In 2015, an audit of Clinton’s Twitter account from the Washington Examiner revealed that she had the most fake followers out of all of the 2016 presidential election candidates.