The morning after last week’s presidential debate, social media blew up with opinions on how each candidate fared and riffs on – sniff, sniff – the more interesting and bizarre moments. And, as to be expected, online polls weighed in on which of the contenders won.
Being in “the cyber” business, I know that many of these reactions share a troubling trait: They’re fake.
On top of everything else that’s unique about the 2016 election, it has marked a surge in the use of bots – digital programs that post autonomously from spam accounts – to try to influence opinion.
Let’s start with the number of online spot polls after the presidential debate that purported to show a decisive victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. This despite the fact that most pundits thought Clinton had the better night, as did reputable polls such as a CNN/ORC survey that deemed Clinton the winner by 62 to 27 percent and one by Public Policy Polling that had Clinton defeating Trump 51 to 40 percent.
According to multiple media outlets, these online polls were bogus. “Trump supporters artificially manipulated the results of online polls to create a false narrative that the Republican nominee won,” the Daily Dot reported.
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