Deceptive accusations and concealed identities as misinformation campaign strategies

Bellutta, Daniele; King, Catherine; Carley, Kathleen M.
Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory

This paper presents a new social media phenomenon that sees users lying about their deceptive motivations by either dishonestly claiming that they are not bots or by asserting that real news is actually fake news. We analyzed the use of the #FakeNews and #NotABot hashtags in Twitter data collected on the 2019 Canadian federal elections. Our findings show that the #FakeNews hashtag was most likely to be connected to an established news source rather than an actual fake news site and that users of the #NotABot hashtag were no more likely to be human than other users in our data set. This phenomenon of lying about lying has been used to discredit well-known news organizations and amplify political misinformation, showing how online influence campaigns continue to evolve to manipulate social media users even as people have become more aware of the dangers of online misinformation.