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Bots have taken GameStop up to major social media platforms, analysis finds

The GameStop logo can be seen in front of the Reddit logo shown in this illustration taken on February 2. 2, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

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WASHINGTON, Feb.26 (Reuters) – Bots from major social media platforms have increased pressure on GameStop and other stocks, suggesting organized economic players, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cybersecurity firm PiiQ Media. or aliens might have played a role. role in Reddit’s commercial frenzy.

GameStop shares soared last month after Reddit users rallied to squeeze hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer and other companies. Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman told Congress this month that bots, artificial or fake accounts with automated content, have not played a “significant role” in the traffic of GameStop Reddit messages.

PiiQ Media’s analysis of Twitter Inc (TWTR.N), Facebook Inc (FB.O), Instagram and YouTube posts, however, revealed that bots were using the platforms to push GameStop and other “meme” actions, though. that it’s not clear how influential they are. were in the global saga.

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A startup that focuses on social media risks, PiiQ said it looked at keyword patterns such as “Hold the Line” and GameStop’s ticker symbol, “GME” through conversations and profiles before the frenzy. from January 28, until February 18. For comparison, he also valued positions on a set of unrelated stocks.

PiiQ said it identified very similar daily “start and stop patterns” in GameStop-related posts, with activity starting at the start of the trading day, followed by a significant spike at the end of the trading day. negotiation. Such patterns are telling of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and CTO of PiiQ.

“We have seen clear patterns of artificial behavior on the other four social media platforms. When you think of organic content, it is variable throughout the day, variable from day to day. He doesn’t have the exact same model every day for a month. ,” he said.

Based on its authenticity rating system, PiiQ estimates that there are tens of thousands of bot accounts promoting GameStop, memes stocks, and Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency swept along in the frenzy. Thousands of fake accounts can be purchased for as little as $ 200, he said.

The company has not analyzed data from Reddit, but Barr said he would expect to see a similar pattern of activity on Reddit, indicating bot-like or coordinated conversation management.

A Reddit rep did not comment beyond Huffman’s testimony. Representatives of YouTube, Facebook and its Instagram affiliate did not respond to requests for comment. Social media platforms generally try to eliminate harmful bots, Barr said.

A Twitter spokesperson said “bots” has become a catch-all term that can often misrepresent the nature of the account. The company notes that robots can be used on its platform for creative or innovative purposes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the GameStop saga and this month suspended trading for a handful of companies because some “social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence” their actions.

In addition to traders, organized criminals can use social media to raise asset prices, and undermining the integrity of U.S. markets is a known goal of hostile state actors, Barr said. But it’s unclear how successful these types of influence efforts are, if at all, he said.

“Measuring the effect of these campaigns is often illusory. “

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Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by Dan Grebler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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