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Use of fake social media bots in Alberta election coming in federal vote: expert

This Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, file photo, shows a Twitter app on an iPhone screen in New York. A political scientist says that a federal report confirming the use of bots to manipulate social media during the recent Alberta election points to dangers for the upcoming federal vote. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Richard Drew

EDMONTON — A political scientist says a federal report confirming the use of false social media posts to try to manipulate last spring’s Alberta election points to dangers for the upcoming federal vote.

The report said there was a large, co-ordinated effort during the Alberta campaign to set up fake Twitter accounts — mostly by supporters of the United Conservative Party.

Duane Bratt of Mount Royal University says the accounts are used to increase polarization, fire up supporters and depress the vote for opponents.

He says there will be many more opportunities for such activity as Canadians go to the polls this fall.

A spokeswoman for Premier Jason Kenney says the use of fake trolls online is a disturbing trend but didn’t influence the result of the Alberta election, which brought the United Conservatives to power.

 

The Canadian Press