Islamophobic messages are being spread online by Twitter bots and fake news
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday November 28 2017
A study by the anti-racist organization Hope Not Hate has found that anti-Muslim sentiment is being spread and amplified online by Twitter bots, fake news, and manipulated images, the Observer reports.
Hope Not Hate researchers have been monitoring the blogs and social media networks of several prominent anti-Muslim figures, including American political activist Pamela Geller and former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson. Through their blogs, Tweets, books, and other platforms, Geller and Robinson regularly push the message that Islam poses an “imminent threat” to Western society.
The study reveals that Pamela Geller’s Islamophobic online content is being retweeted by 102 Twitter bots (automated or semi-automated accounts), extending the reach and impact of her messages.
Between March and November of 2017, the number of followers of popular anti-Muslim accounts in the UK and US increased by an average of 117%, the study finds. Follower numbers have risen at especially high rates in the wake of terrorist attacks. For example, Tommy Robinson gained 40,042 Twitter followers in the days after the Manchester attack, and 22,365 followers after the Westminster attack.
The study also reports that Twitter accounts use images to spread false messages. Following the Westminster attack in March 2017, the Twitter account @Southlonestar circulated an image of a Muslim woman walking past a victim of the attack and claimed that the woman was indifferent to the victim. The @Southlonestar account has been handed over to a US intelligence committee as a fake account generated in Russia to influence American and British politics.
The findings from Hope Not Hate’s study reveal a disturbing trend in the use of social media to spread false, hateful, and damaging messages about Islam and Muslims.
Patrik Hermansson, a researcher for Hope not Hate, stated: “The growth among Twitter accounts and websites spreading anti-Muslim hate is alarming. In such a key area of public interest, it is an indication of increased interest in these views and, as each account or site grows, more people are exposed to deeply prejudiced anti-Muslim views.”
A study published in April 2017 by The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, showed that anti-Muslim Tweets are sadly too frequent. Covering the period from March 2016 to March 2017, the study detected 143,920 Tweets sent from the UK considered to be derogatory and anti-Islamic. That amounts to 393 Tweets per day using anti-Islamic slur, associating Muslims and Islam with terrorism, or claiming that Muslims seek the cultural and social destruction of the West
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