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Social Media Manipulation a Growing Threat to Democracies: Oxford Study | World news

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The manipulation of public opinion through social media is a growing threat to democracies around the world, as shown by a 2020 Oxford University media manipulation survey, which found evidence in each of the 81 countries studied, including India.

According to the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) report released on Wednesday, the number of countries with evidence of organized social media tampering has increased by 15% in one year, up from 70 countries in 2019.

Governments, public relations firms and political parties produce misinformation on an industrial scale, according to the Communication report.

Philip Howard, director of the institute and co-author of the report, said: “Our report shows that misinformation has been professionalized and is now being produced on an industrial scale. Today more than ever, the public must be able to rely on trustworthy information about government policies and actions. ”

“Social media companies need to improve their game by stepping up their efforts to report misinformation and close bogus accounts without government intervention so that the public can access quality information,” he added.

The OII team warns that levels of manipulation on social media have increased as governments and political parties spend millions on private sector “cyber troops” drowning out other voices on social media. Citizen influencers are used to spread compromised news; This includes volunteers, youth groups and civil society organizations who support their ideologies, she adds.

Key findings include: private “strategic communications” firms are playing an increasing role in the spread of computer propaganda, with researchers identifying state actors working with such firms in 48 countries; Almost $ 60 million has been spent on companies using bots and other reinforcement strategies to create the impression that political messages are trending.

The report adds that social media has become a major battleground, with companies like Facebook and Twitter taking steps to combat “cyber troops,” with approximately $ 10 million being spent on political advertising on social media. The platforms removed more than 317,000 accounts and pages from “cyber troop” actors between January 2019 and November 2020.

The 2020 report relies on a four-step methodology to identify evidence of globally organized tampering campaigns, including content analysis of news articles on cyber force activities, secondary literature review of public archives and scientific reports, generation of country-specific case studies and expert consultations.

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