PTI Maligning State Institutions Through Bot Accounts, Claims PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz

Twitter Bot Accounts

April 19, 2022 – Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz has claimed that the campaigns targeting state institutions on Twitter since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Chief Imran Khan’s ouster from Prime Minister’s Office are being run through bot accounts.

Maryam made the claims on Monday, April 18, in a series of tweets. 

“Another IK [Imran Khan] lie exposed, another conspiracy unveiled,” she wrote. “Turns out that the slander campaigns against state institutions and lies about international conspiracy were churned out and spread by no more than a handful of people employing hundreds of fake accounts and bots.”

Earlier in the day, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb shared what she called “authentic information obtained from Twitter”. She said that through these fake accounts, the PTI is maligning state institutions, spreading hate, promoting a false narrative and misleading the public.

Aurangzeb went on to break down a single day’s data and claimed that the “imported government” trend was started by 924 accounts.

“Of these, the active Twitter handles with humans tweeting are 177,” said Aurangzeb, “while original accounts are only 33. The unreal traffic from these 924 accounts make up 75 percent [532 bot accounts].” 

According to Aurangzeb, Twitter marked the “imported government” trends as spams but PTI’s bots are still able to run them by making changes to the hashtags.

A Twitter bot is an automated account that is programmed to perform everyday tasks such as following other users, liking and sharing tweets, etc. The activities on bots, also known as fake accounts, are quite similar to those on genuine accounts. Bots, however, can be deployed for malicious purposes – including spreading misinformation, manipulation, spamming, and violating privacy of other users. Twitter bots are frequently used for political propaganda.

Imran Khan was removed as prime minister after a no-confidence vote was held on April 10 by a coalition of opposition parties, including PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Imran’s ouster was followed by widespread protests online, with controversial trends targeting the Pakistan Army, Supreme Court and the opposition. 

The hashtag centred on the “imported government” narrative, publicised by Imran Khan, shortly after his removal, has since been circulated millions of times on Pakistani Twitter. 

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