Foreigners boost pro-Brexit push on Twitter
Research shows global effort among far-right activists to amplify the ‘leave’ side of debate
Paris — Far-right activists outside of Britain have worked to amplify pro-Brexit sentiment on Twitter, the Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure says, after sifting through more than 24-million messages on the social network.
While detecting efforts to influence both sides of the debate, F-Secure said such activity was “far more prominent” in favour of Britain leaving the EU.
“At the very least, our research shows there’s a global effort among the far-right to amplify the ‘leave’ side of the debate,” Andy Patel, a senior researcher at F-Secure, said.
F-Secure looked at about 24-million tweets sent from 1.65-million accounts from early December 2018 to mid-February that contained the word “Brexit” for signs of suspicious activity, including use of automated networks to retweet messages and stealth public relations campaigns.
As evidence supporting its conclusions, F-Secure cited the top two influencers in the pro-leave community receiving a disproportionate number of retweets and the pro-leave group relying upon support from a handful of non-authoritative news sources.
In addition, it said a significant number of non-UK accounts were involved in pro-leave conversations and retweet activity and that some pro-leave accounts tweeted a mixture of Brexit and non-Brexit issues.
While not pointing the finger at any particular group, the study still said it had found in the pro-leave community a number of accounts “that were clearly American right-wing personas” and that it found no evidence of equivalent accounts in the remain-centric group.
There has been growing concern about manipulation of elections using social networks like Twitter and Facebook following accusations that Russia intervened in the 2016 US presidential election in favour of Donald Trump.