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Study: Bots Spreading Fake News Ahead of French Election

A new study has warned that French voters are being bombarded with the same kind of fake news stories that plagued the 2016 U.S. presidential election, with automated accounts churning out “junk news.” A study by researchers at Oxford University found that “ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial” stories have accounted for about one-fourth of the political links being shared on Twitter in France ahead of the presidential election, Reuters reported. The study by the Oxford Internet Institute is due to be published on Friday, though Reuters saw a copy of it ahead of time. According to researchers, French voters are being much more selective than U.S. voters were with their news. “French voters are sharing better quality information than what many U.S. voters shared and almost as much quality news and information as German users share,” the study said. The study analyzed one week’s worth of activity on Twitter in France, where Facebook recently suspended 30,000 automated accounts suspected of generating fake news and spam. A separate study conducted by the private research group Bakamo offered similar findings ahead of the election, but the group also found that a large portion of the fake news had come from sources “exposed to Russian influence.”