Could a Twitter chatbot campaign disrupt New Zealand's upcoming election?




The risk of a Twitter chatbot campaign being unleashed in the lead-up to the September election is low, according to a data expert and blogger.

Bots have been blamed for disrupting elections in the US and France.
Source: 1 NEWS

Fake social media profiles, or chatbots, are used to post automated messages, often spreading lies and misinformation.

Data expert and blogger Keith Ng believes the risk of a Twitter bot campaign here is low because New Zealand is a small country.

"The people who go on social media is even smaller and the people who talk about politics is even smaller. It is really difficult for random chatbots to infiltrate such a small community," Mr Ng told 1 NEWS. 

"It's not about creating the sense of a real person, it's about yelling something at the right place and at the right time," he said. 

However, political parties are on their guard for chatbots.

"We are concerned that there will be a level of manipulation by people with deep pockets who want to influence the election," said Andrew Kirton, Labour Party General Secretary.

National's campaign manager Steven Joyce says if they see any fake activity they will be reporting it to the relevant social media organisation. 

Bots were blamed for disrupting elections in the US, France and the UK's Brexit vote, so the UK's information watchdog has launched an investigation ahead of next month's election there.

"Somebody needs to pull back the curtain and look behind the scenes to see how all of this data may be mashed up, may be linked and may be used to push people in a certain direction," said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. 

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