Report by Philip Howard and Samantha Bradshaw: “…The report explores the tools, capacities, strategies and resources employed by global ‘cyber troops’, typically government agencies and political parties, to influence public opinion in 70 countries.
Key findings include:
- Organized social media manipulation has more than doubled since 2017, with 70 countries using computational propaganda to manipulate public opinion.
- In 45 democracies, politicians and political parties have used computational propaganda tools by amassing fake followers or spreading manipulated media to garner voter support.
- In 26 authoritarian states, government entities have used computational propaganda as a tool of information control to suppress public opinion and press freedom, discredit criticism and oppositional voices, and drown out political dissent.
- Foreign influence operations, primarily over Facebook and Twitter, have been attributed to cyber troop activities in seven countries: China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
- China has now emerged as a major player in the global disinformation order, using social media platforms to target international audiences with disinformation.
- 25 countries are working with private companies or strategic communications firms offering a computational propaganda as a service.
- Facebook remains the platform of choice for social media manipulation, with evidence of formally organised campaigns taking place in 56 countries….
The report explores the tools and techniques of computational propaganda, including the use of fake accounts – bots, humans, cyborgs and hacked accounts – to spread disinformation. The report finds:
- 87% of countries used human accounts
- 80% of countries used bot accounts
- 11% of countries used cyborg accounts
- 7% of countries used hacked or stolen accounts…(More)”.