Social media platforms like Twitter are becoming hotspots for information surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, many of the information from these sites are fake news and filled with conspiracy theories that could be dangerous for everyone.

Now, it turns out that half of the posts demanding the US to open and conspiracy theories on Twitter were found out to be from bots.

Bots Have Been Spreading Misinformation on Twitter

In a report by the Daily Mail, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity estimates that around 40% to 60% of Twitter accounts that were promoting misinformation related to COVID-19 are bots.

The researchers analyzed around 200 million posts on Twitter regarding the coronavirus pandemic since January.

They then found out that 82% of the top 50 most influential retweeters are bots; 62% of the top 1000 retweeters were also not real people.

The group was able to identify the bots from real accounts through several markers.

According to the news outlet, these bot accounts often tweet and retweet several posts within a short period of time and that they usually copy and paste their content from other bots, including the exact same hashtags and messaging.

They also see the timing of these tweets and say that it's as if these posts were timed to be posted back to back or at the same time.

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Increase in Bot Activity

"We're seeing up to two times as much bot activity as we'd predicted based on previous natural disasters, crises, and elections," said Kathleen Carley, a professor at the Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science.

Professor Carley said that because people have more time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had more time to make do-it-yourself bots and that there are also bigger companies that hire firms to run some of these bots.

The professor also said that the reasoning behind this is for them to "meet political agendas."

That might be why one of the most popular tweets from these Twitter bot accounts is demanding the US government to reopen the country for the economy.

According to Carley and her group, 66% of tweets talk about the reopening of the US from both real accounts and bots, but the latter takes up 32% of the total number of tweets surrounding it.

Furthermore, the researchers found bots promoted over 100 different narratives regarding COVID-19 as well as coronavirus conspiracy theories.

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Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation

There have been several conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19, but perhaps the ones that garnered more traction were about 5G towers that have been causing the disease as well as the one about Bill Gates engineering the virus, which enables him to insert microchips through a vaccine.

There's also one ludicrous theory saying that hospitals are only using mannequins to make it seem like they are full.

Unfortunately, the more these theories spread, the more people who believe them would become more irrational and may do stuff that could endanger them and the people around them, such as partaking in the so-called coronavirus parties and rallies.

To curb down misinformation, Twitter has started removing false information regarding COVID-19 on their site.

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