Trump's Twitter debate lead was 'swelled by bots' - BBC News

By Shiroma Silva BBC News

More than four times as many tweets were made by automated accounts in favour 
of Donald Trump around the first US presidential debate as by those backing 
Hillary Clinton, a study says.

The bots exaggerated support for the Republican, it suggests, but Trump would 
still have won a higher number of supportive tweets even if they had not.

The authors warn such software has the capacity to "manipulate public opinion" 
and "muddy political issues".

The report has yet to be peer-reviewed.

And one critic noted that it was impossible to be completely sure which 
accounts were real and which were "web robots".

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The investigation was led by Prof Philip Howard, from the University of Oxford, 
and is part of a wider project exploring "computational propaganda".

It covered tweets posted on 26 September, the day of the debate, plus the three 
days afterwards, and relied on popular hashtags linked to the event.

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It's better to burn out than fade away.

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