Twitter is not messing around this time.
After the micro-blogging site, along with Facebook, was criticized heavily for its inability to recognize and suspend fake Russian accounts responsible for tipping the 2016 presidential elections in Trump’s favor, Twitter is trying to make sure the same thing does not happen again. As part of this effort, Twitter removed more than 10,000 bots pretending to belong to Democrats which constantly advised others to refrain from voting in the midterms, according to Slate.
The fake accounts were discovered by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a group which works to get Democrats elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. After the 2016 hack of the DNC servers, which arguably cost Democrats the elections, the DCCC has been leading the effort to recognize misinformation arising from fake accounts on social media. Although 10,000 fake bots is still an infinitesimally small number compared to the Twitter purge which took place earlier this year, in which the company removed a staggering 70 million fake accounts, the recently removed bots were nonetheless directly attempting to influence Democrats not to vote in the elections.
Some of the bots specifically asked male Democrats to refrain from voting as that would arguably drown out the voices of women, reports Reuters.
“The [latest] Tweets included ones that discouraged Democratic men from voting, saying that would drown out the voice of women, according to two of the sources familiar with the flagging operation.”
— The Verge (@verge) November 2, 2018
The report also says that unlike the fake accounts of 2016 that were shown to have their origins in Russia, or at the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian-state funded organization reportedly behind the stream of fake accounts on social media, these fake bots appear to have originated in the United States. This points to a partisan effort from groups to try and swing the vote in the midterms, and while it should not be surprising considering the events of the last two years, the ease with which fake information is influencing people to change their votes on social media is something America is perhaps grappling for the first time in its history.
The 2018 midterms are one of the most tightly contested races in recent times, with both Republicans and Democrats hoping to control the House and Senate by the end of it. While a Republican win would almost definitely help Trump push ahead with his policies and even prepare the grounds for a 2020 win, a Democratic win could cause him major headaches with even an impeachment proceeding against him not ruled out by the Democrats, according to Bloomberg.