The hashtag #TrudeauMustGo soared to the top of Twitter’s trending list in Canada on Tuesday.
A closer look revealed that much of the activity surrounding the hashtag was actually driven by bots, including about two dozen accounts created in the past 48 hours.
Two weeks ago, we wrote a piece on probable foreign interference in Canada, Tuesday’s was a case in point.
The trending hashtag came in simultaneously after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comment on Monday, when asked about his position on President Donald Trump’s recent racist tweets in which he told four sitting congresswomen who are US citizens “go back to your country.”
That is not how we do things in Canada,” Trudeau remarked. “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
More than two dozen accounts tweeting the hashtag #TrudeauMustGo were created in the past two days, many of which tweeted at non-human rates.
According to analysis by National Observer using data visualization platform Kibana and our visual confirmation. Several notable patterns emerged from the data, including numerous indicators of inauthentic activity.
Some accounts using the hashtag displayed signs of automation, while others appeared to be pro-Trump accounts that jumped onto the anti-Trudeau hashtag. About 400 accounts had the word “MAGA” in their profiles.
The account @CanadaProud10 was the top contributor to the hashtag, putting out 119 tweets tagged with #TrudeauMustGo. The account was created in May 2019 and has tweeted an average of 142 times a day since then, which suggests it may be at least partially automated.
Another top contributor, @ErikLuczak, has tweeted an average of 313 times a day since December 2018.
More than two dozen accounts tweeting the hashtag were created in the past two days, many of which tweeted at non-human rates.
For example, @tcanuckchik tweeted more than 230 times within 24 hours of creating an account.
Another account, @aviator300E, was created on July 14 and tweeted more than 200 times a day during the first two days of its existence.
Other recently created accounts displayed similar rapid-firing tweeting, some of which have already been deleted or suspended by Twitter.
Certainly, many of those using the hashtag #TrudeauMustGo were real Canadians expressing themselves — but a non-trivial number of tweets came from accounts that were brand new with bot’s behaviour.
Meanwhile, other tweets came from users who were explicitly opposed to the message conveyed by the hashtag, and still others came from accounts that appeared to be oriented toward American not Canadian politics.
One of the perils of social media is that automated accounts and co-ordinated inauthentic activity can create the false appearance of widespread support (or opposition) for an issue, position or candidate — a phenomenon known as manufactured consensus.
Canadians are way smarter to differentiate a real thing from a propaganda.