Robotrolling is a quarterly publication.
Inauthentic English- and Russian-language conversations on Twitter about the NATO presence in Poland and the Baltic States peaked on 4 and 5 December, respectively, coinciding with the 2019 NATO Leaders’ Meeting in London. Robotic accounts focused heavily on the meeting this quarter, particularly on English-language Twitter, which saw roughly 3 times the usual level of bot activity. On VK, an anomalous increase in activity from anonymous human-controlled accounts coincided with the meeting.
Due to the contentious atmosphere surrounding the meeting in London, a considerable increase in the proportion of posts generated by bots was observed on English-language Twitter this quarter. At the same time, Russian-language bot activity on Twitter decreased to the lowest level observed thus far.
In this issue of Robotrolling, we dig deeply into a sample of political pages amassed by a COE report on commercial social media manipulation in order to identify patterns in inauthentic activity on Facebook. We demonstrate that the 2019 elections in Ukraine were the primary focus of actors willing to pay for inflated social media engagement. Our analysis also reveals several shared traits among political manipulators on Facebook and provides a network visualisation that shows the connections between them.
As a new year of Robotrolling begins, we review trends observed in VK groups over the past 18 months. A steady reduction in the proportion of content shared in communities dedicated to the so-called Novorossia region and the Donbass coincides with inauthentic content increasingly being posted in community spaces such as private groups or pages