London: Russian Twitter bots attempted to influence the 2017 UK general election results by promoting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to an investigation by The Sunday Times.
Conducted in conjunction with Swansea University, the researchers discovered that in the run up to the election, 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts, many of which are run by Internet robots known as “bots”, supported the Labour Party.
It has been claimed that most of these accounts, which tried to denigrate the Conservative rivals, were created just weeks before the polling day.
The Labour Party denied any wrongdoing and said that its “people-powered election campaign” was the reason for its success.
“The Labour Party’s people-powered election campaign attracted huge levels of public support online. We were not aware of any from automated bots, categorically did not pay for any and are not aware of any of our supporters doing so,” a Labour Party spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.
The election saw Corbyn’s Labour Party increase its tally by 31 seats. Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a major setback and lost her parliamentary majority in the election.
Urging Twitter to act to prevent such interference in the country’s election in the future, UK’s digital and culture secretary Matthew Hancock said the revelations are “extremely concerning”.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country,” he told The Sunday Times.
“The social media companies need to act to safeguard our democratic discourse and reveal what they know,” Hancock said.