Prepared by the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence
Read the full study here.
The NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence published the first issue of Robotrolling, a publication dedicated to the activities of automated bots on social media. In the inaugural edition, they deal specifically with Twitter activities connected to NATO and four host countries of NATO troops – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – in the period between March and August 2017, in both the Russian and English language. The study shows that 70% of accounts active in Russian on the given subject were automated. In the English language sphere, the number of automated accounts was smaller (28%), but was responsible for a relatively large amount of content.
How do Russian Twitter-bots operate? They are often distinguished by high levels of coordination, in contrast to the English-language accounts, which mostly consist of lone actors. Among the four host countries in question, Estonia has been targeted most frequently by Twitter-bots, while Poland and Lithuania the least. Most often, the bots talk to other bots, promoting third party content or incrementally building more believable profiles. Most commonly, they copy-and-paste headlines from online media outlets or serve as news aggregators.