Swedes note Twitter bot surge

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A Swedish government study says there’s been a recent surge in the number of automated Twitter accounts ahead of the Sept. 9 election, noting that 40 percent of them are more likely to support the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party, expected to make gains.

The study by Sweden’s defense research agency comes amid broader concerns over misinformation ahead of the election. Researcher Johan Fernquist said the number of so-called Twitter bots discussing politics nearly doubled from July to August.

The report published Wednesday said users “may be led to believe that this content (is) more widely accepted or more mainstream than it actually is.”

The FOI agency noted that “it is 40 percent more common that the bots express support for the Swedish Democrats compared to what genuine accounts do.”

FOI, which analyzed almost 600,000 tweets from more than 45,000 accounts, did not say who might be behind the bots.