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Bots and trolls are swaying opinions on Facebook, Twitter

A new study shows bots and trolls are using the biggest social media sites to manipulate your views.

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Bots and trolls are socially savvy.
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Your political views are being shaped by bots and trolls on social media, a new study confirms.

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become tools for the spread of propaganda, according to the study released Monday by the University of Oxford. The research was conducted across nine countries, including the US, China and Russia.

The report found social media to be "significant platforms for political engagement" and "crucial channels for disseminating news content" where efforts are put into swaying opinion. One example cited of the US includes using bots to give the illusion of significant online popularity so as to build real political support.

The proliferation of fake news has been a huge concern for countries around the world. The fake news phenomenon was put in the spotlight amid allegations that it helped put President Trump in the White House. Consequently, Google and Facebook launched the CrossCheck project ahead of the French elections earlier this year to verify news stories. In April, Facebook also outlined the steps it's taking to combat alternative facts.

The most powerful way to spread propaganda involves the cooperation between "bots and trolls," according to the study. This is most apparent in China, where the spread of propaganda over social media is "heavily coordinated."

Germany was found to be a "leader" in the battle against the spread of fake news over social media, with regulation set to be implemented across the country by summer as well as "numerous civil society watchdog projects."

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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