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Massive anti-Russian ‘bot army’ exposed by Australian researcers

An Australian university has unearthed millions of Tweets by fake ‘bot’ accounts pushing disinformation on the Ukraine war. 
 
by Peter Cronau
 
Part 7 - Wars and lies in our pockets
 
With the rise of the internet, war and armed conflict will never be the same again. Others have noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has ushered in ‘a new digital era of military, political and economic conflict’ being manipulated by ‘laptop generals and bot armies’.

In all dimensions of this conflict, digital technology plays a key role – as a tool for cyberattacks and digital protest, and as an accelerator for flows of information and disinformation,’ wrote one.

Propaganda has been a part of war since the beginning of history, but never before could it be so widely spread beyond an actual conflict area and targeted to so many different audiences.

Joshua Watt, one of the lead researchers on the University of Adelaide team that conducted the landmark study, summed it up. ‘In the past, wars have been primarily fought physically, with armies, air force and navy operations being the primary forms of combat. However, social media has created a new environment where public opinion can be manipulated at a very large scale.

CNN brought once-distant wars into our living rooms,’ another stated, ‘but TikTok and YouTube and Twitter have put them in our pockets.

We are all carrying around with us a powerful source of information and news media – and also, most certainly, disinformation that’s coming relentlessly at us from influence operations run by ‘bad actors’ whose aim is to deceive.

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