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Twitter Bots Helped Trump and Brexit Win, Economic Study Says

  • Researchers in U.S., U.K. measure volume of automated tweets
  • Find that bots may have contributed to, even tipped, elections
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Photographer: Alex Flynn/Bloomberg

Twitter bots may have altered the outcome of two of the world’s most consequential elections in recent years, according to an economic study.

Automated tweeting played a small but potentially decisive role in the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper showed this month. Their rough calculations suggest bots added 1.76 percentage point to the pro-“leave” vote share as Britain weighed whether to remain in the European Union, and may explain 3.23 percentage points of the actual vote for Trump in the U.S. presidential race.