Study: Bots on Social Media Helped Hillary More Than Trump
The conventional wisdom in mainstream political circles is that Russia and other Trump-supporting entities flooded Twitter and other social media sites with so-called “bots” to aid the New York Republican and help push him to new heights of popularity. But while it is true that Trump had plenty of non-human supporters on the site helping to push right-wing stories and boost the candidate’s profile, the social media bots were also out in force for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
And according to a new paper from MIT’s Tauhid Zaman, Clinton got far more help from this army of pre-programmed accounts than Trump.
“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 wrote. “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.”
Seeing as how there were more “Trump bots” than “Clinton bots” during the 2016 general election, Zaman was compelled to dig deeper to see how it was that this finding could be true.
“We wondered what had made the Clinton bots more effective than the Trump bots,” he wrote. “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.
“It appeared that the power of the Clinton bots came not from their numbers, but from how often they tweeted,” he continued. “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.”
It should not come as a surprise to learn that Hillary Clinton had plenty of help from the world of technological trickery. The only reason it might is because the media was content to ignore stories that came out about her campaign from the moment she threw her hat into the ring. If they’d paid attention, they would have found stories about Clinton’s social media bot-net dating from 2015, when a Washington Examiner investigation showed that she had more fake followers on Twitter than any other candidate.