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Government 'Cyber Troops' Manipulate Facebook, Twitter, Study Says

An Oxford study found authoritarian and democratic governments game social media to shape public opinion.
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Photographer: Charles Taylor/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Governments around the world are enlisting "cyber troops" who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

Adding to growing evidence of government-sponsored efforts to use online tools to influence politics, researchers found 29 countries using social media to shape opinion domestically or with foreign audiences. The tactics are deployed by authoritarian regimes, but also democratically-elected governments, the authors said.