Use of Facebook Accounts with Inauthentic Behavior in Elections: The Romanian Presidential Election Case

Authors

  • Bogdan Oprea University of Bucharest

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21018/rjcpr.2023.3.445

Keywords:

election campaign, fake accounts, manipulation, political communication, social media

Abstract

Astroturfing, trolling, bots, false amplifiers and social media accounts with inauthentic behavior are used in online political communication even if they have a real-world dangerous effect on democratic systems. Some of these activities are involving users that are over-proportionally active in relation to the mean. This explanatory research sought to determine whether such hyperactive users are utilized to share political posts to create an impression of popularity for a specific political message and, thus, to influence the recommendation algorithms of social networks in order to increase the exposure of political messages. In this study, I analyzed the most shared posts during the election campaign on the official Facebook pages of the first three ranked candidates in the 2019 Romanian presidential election. The research revealed an average of 18.3% of shares were made by hyperactive users on their own timeline or in different Facebook groups, with users that shared the same post for 69 times. Furthermore, I identified some of the characteristics of hyperactive users’ accounts based on their public social media profile, which may helps understand the specifics of these accounts. The results show that election communication involves activities considered by Facebook to be a practice of „manipulating public opinion“ and of „manipulating political discussion“ (Weedon et al., 2017, p. 5).

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Published

2024-02-24

How to Cite

Oprea, B. (2024). Use of Facebook Accounts with Inauthentic Behavior in Elections: The Romanian Presidential Election Case. Romanian Journal of Communication and Public Relations, 25(3), 53–72. https://doi.org/10.21018/rjcpr.2023.3.445

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Section

Articles