Twitter Bots Take Center Stage In Aiding Russian #NoRussiaNoGames Backlash Against Olympic Ban

Russia’s exclusion from the Olympics has aroused backlash and social media protests that have even been aided by Twitter bots through a hashtag pushing for the country’s inclusion into the Winter Olympics.

Twitter’s bots have played a significant part in popularizing the campaign through the hashtag, #NoRussiaNoGames. Many Russians have expressed their displeasure and disappointment at the decision to ban Russia’s team from the upcoming Olympic Games which will be held in South Korea. The decision was made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to doping reports.

The decision led to the formation of the hashtag which many Russians have supported on the microblogging platform but even more interesting is that it seems that automated bots have also escalated the cause. Reports of social media analysis carried out by Reuters and a security researcher based in Britain suggest that the sentiments expressed through the hashtag have been amplified by automated bots. These bots are also reportedly tied to fake twitter accounts that are previously believed to have ties with the Kremlin.

“What we’ve got here is a small but genuine hashtag campaign, which is being exaggerated and amplified by Russian state propaganda outlets to make it look like the campaign is huge and an upwelling of popular anger,”statedBen Nimmo, a researcher at Digital Forensics Research Lab.

The hashtag is believed to have been initiated by a boy from St Petersburg who was protesting the ban of one of the skiers from his country for doping and it made their way onto a Russian social network. It became bigger on Twitter’s social platform after Russia was banned from participating in the upcoming games by the International Olympic Committee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also commented on the ban and even went ahead to describe it as a politically instigated move. Russia has for the past year been considered to have a rather tainted social media image for allegedly using social platforms to manipulate various matters such as the U.S presidency. However, analysts have described the online protests against Russia being banned from the Olympics as a genuine campaign.

Twitter stock closed the latest trading session on Friday at $21.10.