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50% of Twitter trending topics in Turkey found to be fake

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At least 47% of the Twitter trends in Turkey are fake, and 20% of those trends make up worldwide trends, according to a study by researchers in Switzerland. reports citing Anadolu Agency that since 2015, hit-and-run astroturfing attacks – using automated accounts (bots) to artificially propel a chosen keyword to the top of Twitter trending topics – have hit Turkey's 11.8 million active users and global trends.

When determining trends, Twitter does not consider whether a tweet has been deleted, making it more vulnerable to such attacks.

Some academic studies even cite trending topics as a proxy for public opinion, apparently unaware that such trends can be manipulated rather than organic.

"One example is #SuriyelilerDefolsun, as we found it was cited in at least five academic studies,” said Elmas, referring to a hashtag supposedly showing support in the Turkish public for Syrians who fled the civil war to leave Turkey.

“But all [of them] attributed the source of the campaign to social media users, missing the bot activity."

The Turkish government and society have been praised internationally for welcoming Syrian refugees, some 4 million of whom live in Turkey, more than any other country.

2021.06.10 / 15:13
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