Junk News and Bots during the 2017 UK General Election

Computational propaganda distributes large amounts of misinformation about politics and public policy over social media platforms. The combination of automation and propaganda can significantly impact public opinion during important policy debates, elections, and political crises. We collected Twitter data on bot activity and junk news using a set of hashtags related to the 2017 UK General Election for a week in May 2017. (1) Content about the Labour Party tended to dominate traffic on Twitter. (2) Automated accounts generated a relatively small amount of content about UK politics, and while this automation was spread fairly equally across parties, highly automated accounts associated with the Labour Party were more active in generating traffic. (3) Social media users in the UK shared four links to professional news and information for every one link to junk news. (4) In comparison to our study of similar trends in the US, Germany and France, we find that UK users shared better quality information than that which many US users shared, but worse quality news and information than German and French users shared.

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