On Twitter, an army of bots takes the issue of fuel shortages to the top

While dozens of highly retweeted posts are completely genuine, a steady influx of posts keeps the keyword trending at the top.

If you use Twitter, you may have seen posts that contain the hashtag #fuelshortage. And for good reason, according to Visibrain data compiled by Tech&Co, more than 100,000 tweets have raised the topic since October 7. Many messages, especially the most repeated ones, have been posted by authentic accounts. But at the same time, thousands of fake accounts have been created with the aim of highlighting this keyword.

On the social network, several specialists saw a swarm of tweets appear on the same model on October 10, revealing a random phrase in English, attached to the keyword #fuelshortage. All these messages come from accounts that seem to have been created for the occasion, without subscription or subscriber, English-speaking names and profile photos, again on a common model: a colored gradient background adorned with some emojis.

Florent Lefebvre, a specialist in data analysis in social networks, analyzed a sample of these publications, between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on October 10. A total of 2,744 tweets used the hashtag #penuriecarburant during this period. In 61% of cases, they came from suspected robotic accounts. In the illustration below, the white dots represent so many accounts that have used the keyword, but have no subscriptions or subscribers.

With Tech & Co, Florent Lefebvre claims to have released a new analysis on October 11, while the flow of false messages related to fuel shortages has not been interrupted.

For the organizers of such an information manipulation operation, the success is there: on October 11, Twitter continues to choose to show the keyword #fuel shortage at the top of these trends, sending Internet users to the most repeated, often coming from opponents (both left and right) of the government.

If it is impossible to determine the paternity of this operation, the latter aims to “maintain tension on the subject, encourage people to comment on the subject” and “incite the press to talk about the subject”, Analysis by Eric FreyssinetScientific Director of the National Gendarmerie.

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