KCBS_740 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The way we vote on Tuesday might have been shaped by forces that humans can’t detect, including the influence of bots in at least one of our social media feeds.

Computer science researchers at the University of Southern California created sophisticated algorithms to figure out, during a one-month period including presidential debates, how many tweets about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were generated not by humans, but by software.

“Looking at the content itself, but also the timing of the activity, the network structures, how information spreads from one account to another and so forth. Eventually we realized that about 15 percent of the accounts on the Twitter feed discussing elections in the U.S. are bots,” Research assistant professor Emilio Ferrara told KCBS.

More importantly, Ferrara says, these bots generated about 20-percent of the entire conversation.

Bots don’t arise spontaneously. People program them.

The research team found that the bots designed to promote Donald Trump made it appear he has grassroots support, while the bots related to Hillary Clinton have been more neutral.

Comments (46)
  1. Grassroots are the only Trump supporters. The Elite, the Media, and the Political Parties are all against him.

    1. 90 percent of American Media is owned by three major corporations with Rockerfeller ties. Main stream media, is supposed to be the 3rd estate, but the 4th has surpassed the 3rd and CBS along with many others are owned by the same compoanies. Fringe Hosts like Alex Jones at infowars have more credibility then CBS/NBC and CNN and FOX along with Washington decivious. Enemies of the people

  2. Kay Paul says:

    The newest form of propaganda, that uses the like system to promote the hivemind, common core, govt. etc. etc.

  3. It would be nice if some examples, or a link to the study, was provided.

  4. Also would have been nice to provide some idea as to who was programming the bots. What parties are responsible?

  5. “The research team found that the bots designed to promote Donald Trump made it appear he has grassroots support, while the bots related to Hillary Clinton have been more neutral.”

    AND THE BOTS WHO WROTE THIS STUPID ARTICLE ARE LEFTIST PROPAGANDISTS.

  6. There are no Trump Bots that is out of character of Trump and he does have grassroots support. Is the author a bot?

  7. Yes, I can clearly imagine Hillary telling her “bot” programmers “Don’t make me look too good, just neutral”. God I hate hack journalists!

  8. Well KCBS, judging from the previous comments, those appearing to be ‘grass roots’ didn’t buy your propaganda piece. Or are they all bots too?

  9. Taluca Lake says:

    All of the left-leaning comments are from bots. They may eat, sleep and breathe but they’re bots

  10. Have a sneaking suspicion CNN will attempt to call the Election early to suppress the western US voter

    1. To late for the bots I voted Trump around 8:00 am.

  11. Heather Balz says:

    This bot just came back from voting Trump in Michigan.

  12. …are DOJ/NSA bots. Fixed it for ya’.

  13. This hispanic bot voted for Trump. Build the wall!

  14. Researchers have discovered that about 35% of KCBS new articles are generated by bots. The remaining 65% are written by the DNC.

  15. Sam Spade says:

    This “bot” loves the comments here!

  16. One way you can tell is by how they reply to your reply. The message will not change at all. Anything you write will be ignored.

  17. The bot theory is real. we saw it in Indiana with the pizza place attcaked on Twitter because they said they wouldn’t do gay weddings. Remember.? So, yes, the system exists and hasds been serving the left activist groups for some time. Well, today is election an d [lease note those are not bots standing in line to vote for Donald Trump. Your readers aren’t bots either.

  18. Mike Herman says:

    The HiLIARy supporting posts I’ve seen HAD to be bot-generated. No human is that stupid…at least not for free.

  19. More anti Trump nonsense. Now all the bots are pro-Trump, give me a break. Typical of a corrupt media to spin the story the other way round. Bots are all pro Clinton Soros funded

  20. Mike Herman says:

    It’s only right that non-humans post for HiLIARy. After all, they vote for her.

  21. Hillary deleted 30,000 of her bots. 50 committed suicide and she only has one bot left. Bill hasn’t grabbed it since 1975.

  22. Henry Keller says:

    Interesting how nearly EVERY reply here is UNFAVORABLE and UNBELIEVING of the story written! They must all be BOTS. Note how ALL have real names and IDs and are not afraid to POST them.Personally i think the story was written by BOTS. The intelligence of the story reveals it!!

  23. Jim Williams says:

    Any word yet on which way the bots are voting?

  24. Lu M Zia says:

    …..and 100% of twitter users are people who don’t have a life.

  25. San Tan says:

    Twitter is totally fake…just search “click farms” I can have 1 million twitter followers for $39.

  26. Astroturffing is the only thing the left knows how to do, there is no excitement of Hillary – none! Even with JayZ and Beyonce she still had a smaller crowd than Trump on the same night in the same city.

  27. Okay, CBS, just how stupid are you? “Trump’s bots make it appear he has grassroots support”. Um, actually no. It’s the sold out arenas that make it “appear” he has grassroots support. “Hillary’s bots are more neutral”. Suuuure they are. That’s why she put so much effort into bots and trolls. Gee! I wonder why the media lacks credibility? Duh.

  28. Tony Ascaso says:

    No kidding, bots have been a part of the landscape for decades! I remember using them in ICP to keep chat rooms guarded and to boot the progs and liberals that would invade our channel!

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