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Debate commentary on social media is largely automated

The end of the 2016 presidential election is in sight. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, which is less than three weeks away.

Social media has been playing a much bigger role in this election than in the past. People were even able to submit questions for the candidates through Facebook that were asked during the second debate. Now, a recent study shows that much of the political activity found on social media isn't even coming from humans.

The study, conducted by university professors, shows that nearly 25 percent of all tweets discussing the first two presidential debates were generated by bots. A Twitter bot is basically a computer program designed to automatically post messages or retweet messages from other users. Bots are usually more active than the regular Twitter user, posting at least 50 messages per day on specific topics.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have about the same number of bot followers on Twitter, nearly 3 percent. What's interesting is the number of pro-Trump tweets by bots during the debates are quite a bit higher than the number of pro-Clinton ones.

During the first and second presidential debates, about one-third of all pro-Trump tweets were posted by bots. Whereas about 25 percent of all pro-Clinton tweets were posted by bots. However, pro-Trump bots generated about four times as many tweets than the pro-Clinton bots did.

The professors conducting the study don't know who is behind the bots, as they are difficult to trace. They say it's easy to put together an automated account, or bot. Bots are also easily purchased online.

There is also no indication whether these type of bots have any actual influence on the election. People could be using them just to muddy the election waters. We'll just have to wait for future studies to determine the role Twitter plays in elections.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think about automated posts on social media. We'll let you know of any updates in our Happening Now section and keep you up to speed on all the breaking tech news.

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