A quick research note: your election is definitely under attack via Twitter, despite assertions to the contrary. This is part one of a nine-part series written in the run-up to the 2019 Canadian election. The research was reported by CTV and CBC.
Twitter Data Collection on Canadian Elections
For the last month, we have been collecting and inspecting Twitter data in DiscoverText, around key themes in the upcoming October 21, 2019 election.
We feel it is urgent to alert everyone, the media and Canadian citizens alike, about the scope and nature of the social media campaigns underway. We based our analysis on new work on social media automation, bot detection, troll/impostor detection, and neural networks.
For this post, we will focus on the #TrudeauMustGo campaign. In fact, this particular campaign has attracted the attention of many scholars, as it shows clear signs of foreign election interference.
#TrudeauMustGo: Findings on Tweeting Activity
One easy way to slice Twitter data is by the number of tweets per day. Therefore, we isolated the 672 “screen_names” that, over their entire existence, have averaged between 100 and 1,184 tweets/day.
This sub-group of hyperactive accounts has a median activity of 140 tweets/day, with 200 users averaging more than 200 tweets/day. What can we say about these 672 users, apart from noting their prolific posting rates? Quite a bit actually.
#TrudeauMustGo: Findings on User Bios
Let’s start by analyzing how these Twitter users, including those being retweeted or replied to, describe themselves. To do this, we look at the metadata field called “user_description”, a.k.a. Twitter user bios. Note, these bios are not focused on Trudeau, or even Canadian politics more generally.
We display below lists of the top 10 terms, bigrams, and trigrams in these 672 bios. The digital fingerprints of #MAGA, and other pro-Trump accounts, dominate the slice of super-active accounts appearing in the data.
Just take a minute to reflect on this one finding. Hard core #MAGA identities on Twitter are being amplified by users that tweet 100+ times per day.
So, leaving aside whether they are:
- Bots or humans,
- Real Americans or impostors,
- Automated or manual accounts,
- Compliant with Twitter ToS.
WTF are these accounts doing in the #TrudeauMustGo data? The entire point of MAGA is not giving a damn about any other country. So why are all these pro-MAGA accounts so dominant in this data?
This is not only true for content shared by 100+ tweet per day users. In fact, we have a set of 26,854 unique bios behind the 400,000+ tweets we have collected to date.
More on Canadian Election Intrusion
We will also ask more tough questions. For instance, how best to combat election intrusion by bots and trolls? How is that possible without the help of the social sites that are permitting this activity to flourish? Also, why did Twitter suspend my @botgarlic account for auto retweeting #garlic, while all this electoral disruption goes on unabated?