Sixty-six percent of links to popular sites shared on Twitter stem from automated accounts, including legitimate accounts belonging to organizations that schedule tweets through an automated service, according to Pew Research. In addition, most of these accounts are not as politically polarized as headlines might make them appear, nor do they primarily connect to hyper-partisan websites.
The Pew researchers analyzed a random sample of 1.2 million tweets sent between July 27 and Sept. 11, 2017, analyzed the top 3,000 sites those tweets linked to over that period, and divided them into the categories of adult content, sports, celebrity, commercial products or services, organizations or groups, and news and current events. The final step involved running all the accounts linking to each of those sites via the machine-learning Botometer algorithm.
The team found business sites were especially popular with bots because so many automated accounts exist for the purpose of sharing news.
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