Hundreds of bots and thousands of fake accounts run by “troll farms” tried to manipulate social media debates in favor of the European Super League (ESL) after the project was announced last April, according to a report. study of a Spanish digital consulting firm.
The Pandemia Digital study, which was first published by Spanish outlet El Confidencial, said several fake Twitter accounts amplified pro-ESL and anti-UEFA content within 72 hours of the project being announced. .
Twelve clubs have signed up for the ESL breakaway plan, only for it to crumble when the six England sides plus Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid withdrew, leaving Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid as the only remaining members.
Unlike the Champions League, where teams must qualify through their national championship, the founding teams of the Super League have secured a place in the new competition every year.
The study indicates that over two million tweets were posted from 272,000 Super League accounts in those 72 hours, the vast majority against ESL.
However, the fake social media accounts posted more than 10 tweets per second and were mostly located in Spain and Arab countries, according to the study.
A hashtag supporting Real Madrid president Florentino Perez (#EstamosContigoPresi) appeared in 18,000 tweets posted by 7,000 accounts, most recently created without any subscribers.
The study indicates that there were 3,600 tweets published in a few hours with the exact same sentence: “The super league is a good idea and will revolutionize football”.
A “troll farm” is a coordinated effort to manipulate public discourse using fake accounts. A “bot” is software that performs automated, repetitive and predefined tasks.
They work much faster than human users and are often used to take control of a social media story, creating false trending topics.