Report reveals surge in fake accounts on X targeting US presidential election

The study found that 15% of accounts praising former President Donald Trump and criticizing President Joe Biden are fake, while 7% of accounts praising Biden and criticizing Trump are fake.

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Fake accounts discussing the US presidential election are increasing on the social media platform X, according to a report by Cyabra, an Israeli tech company specialising in AI-driven analysis. The report found that 15% of accounts praising former President Donald Trump and criticising President Joe Biden are fake, while 7% of accounts praising Biden and criticising Trump are fake.

Cyabra’s study analysed posts on X over two months, starting 1 March, focusing on popular hashtags and sentiment. The analysis showed a tenfold increase in fake accounts during March and April. Specifically, 12,391 out of 94,363 pro-Trump accounts and 803 out of 10,065 pro-Biden accounts were found to be bogus.

The report also noted that fake pro-Trump accounts appear to be part of a coordinated campaign pushing messages like ‘Vote for Trump’ and ‘Biden is the worst president the US has ever had,’ while fake pro-Biden accounts did not show coordinated activity.

Although X did not respond to requests for comments, Elon Musk recently announced efforts to purge bots and trolls from the platform, including testing a ‘Not a Bot’ program in New Zealand and the Philippines.

Why does it matter?

Since Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, social media platforms have faced increased scrutiny. With the upcoming election on 5 November, Cyabra’s findings on fake accounts are a cause of alarm for election officials and misinformation experts. The situation is even more concerning, given X’s history of downplaying the presence of fake accounts on its platform. According to Reuters, in May 2022, Twitter claimed that fewer than 5% of its daily active users were ‘false or spam’ based on an internal review. However, Cyabra estimated that 13.7% of Twitter profiles were inauthentic.