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For the first time, Brazil takes the top of the list of hashtags fired by bots on Twitter

#MaiaTemQueCair and #FechadoComBolsonaro had a large number of shots fired by bots, as monitored by BotSentinel

This Monday (27) Brazil made history in the Twitter, but not in a positive way: for the first time, a hashtag from outside the United States topped the BotSentinel, which monitors publishing activities arising from fake accounts – known robs or bots. Since April 24, when Srgio Moro announced his departure from the Ministry of Justice, the platform began to notice an increase in the hashtag shots #ClosedComBolsonaro:

However, the hashtag that reached the top of the list the #MaiaTemQueCair, which had great movement among fake accounts located here in Brazil. The information was revealed by Christopher Bouzy, founder of BotSentinel, which discovered this strange movement when testing a new monitoring algorithm for large-scale automatic publications.

The astonishment of Bouzy occurred because it was the first time that a hashtag from outside the United States appears at the top of the list of the largest worldwide activity of counterfeit accounts, and it is possible to see that Brazil occupies not only the first place on the list but also the third, with the hashtag #MaiaVaiCair.

Where did these bots come from?

It is clear that both hashtags Brazilian women who appear on the list ask to leave the post of Rodrigo Maia, current president of the Chamber of Deputies. But why did so many fake account activities arise asking for the deputy's head from one moment to the next?

As we can see when accessing the hashtag, almost all posts come from accounts of supporters of the current president Jair Bolsonaro, so the greater probability that the rise of this hashtag was commissioned as a way to demoralize the current president of the Chamber of Deputies.

This occurs precisely at a time when Mayan has a certain power over the president, since he is responsible for deciding whether or not an impeachment against Twitter. Since Friday, several parties have sent Cmara requests for opening the process of impeachment, and Mayan to decide whether these will be accepted or not.

rodrigo mayaPresident of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia who will decide on the opening of the impeachment process for President Jair Bolsonaro (Image: Michel Jesus / Chamber of Deputies)

This large volume of requests has taken place since the resignation of the former Minister of Justice Srgio Moro last Friday (24), who surrendered his position accusing the president Twitter to try to interfere in the investigations of the Federal Police in order to protect the children, whose names appear in some PF inquiries.

At the moment Mayan has refused to comment on requests for impeachment, but according to sources close to the deputy he has been cautious about these requests, saying he will wait for denunciations made by Moro fully investigated before deciding whether to proceed with those requests. These sources still say that he does not believe that this is the time to start a impeachment, as Brazil is still fighting the pandemic of COVID-19.

As for the parliamentarians who sent the requests, it is clear that Twitter tried to interfere in the Federal Police, because what motivated the ex-minister's departure was that, in the same day of his resignation, the Official Directory had confirmed the resignation of Maurcio Valeixo the post of director general of the Federal Police. Moro he also released messages to Jornal Nacional indicating that the reason for his resignation was the fact that some PF operations had the president's sons among the investigated names.

How bots work

twitter botsBots are used on social networks to force some issues on the public agenda (Image: Bots Brasil)

What we call bots in fact, they are programs that often use artificial intelligence to make automatic publications on social networks. Often these programs are very useful (for example, the help systems of large stores that allow automatic assistance to customers even in times where there is no real attendant present), but often this technology can be used for less noble purposes.

It is precisely for this purpose that we usually talk about bots who raise hashtags on social media. In this case, these bots are just fake accounts created for use in places like Twitter it's the Facebook, with the objective of trying to manipulate the public agenda, that is, the subject that is being discussed at the moment, and what is the direction that we want to give to this subject.

The technique has been used with great success for years, and became better known to the public when several fake accounts created in Russia were found manipulating public opinion during the 2016 US presidential election, and this manipulation was one of the factors that helped to elect Donald Trump that moment.

In general, these fake accounts are not administered one by one, but collectively, using network technologies to effect mass triggering of messages. This allows thousands of accounts to start talking about the same topic at once, which helps to hashtag in evidence and, little by little, accounts of real people who agree with the content posted by the bots also start to reproduce it, giving the impression that this is an organic movement of the social network, and not something forced through mass shootings .

One of the most recent cases of this type of manipulation occurred at the end of March, when thousands of accounts started tweeting about the history of “Cousin of the building porter who died while trying to change the road tire” and, in the death certificate, it was written that the cause of death was COVID-19.

twitter botsHistory of the porter's cousin was a fake news released by the massive use of bots (Image: E-Farsas)

This story at the time was quite successful on social media, but a closer look at hashtag showed that it was the action of bots. After all, there were hundreds of profiles of different people and from different regions of the country speaking the same story, and using exactly the same text to tell it.

At the time that this narrative emerged, Brazil was experiencing an increase in the number of deaths due to the new coronavirus, and while many people began to take the idea of ​​quarantine and isolate themselves at home more seriously, there was also an interest in creating a narrative that all this was overkill and that the disease was not so lethal. This history of the tire came precisely to try to create an extraordinary (and, for that reason, shareable) fact that proved that there was a hand in the medical community to increase the number of deaths from the disease.

Source: Christopher Bouzy's profile on Twitter, MoneyTimes, E-Farsas, Bots Brasil