Accusations of dishonourable campaigning have featured in every Argentine presidential election since the return to democracy in 1983. Yet, allegations made in the elections this October and November looked different from earlier ones. The campaign team for the centre-leftist candidate Daniel Scioli argued that Cambiemos, the centre-right coalition led by Mauricio Macri, was abusing the political affordances of social media by running a Twitter campaign via ‘50,000’ fake accounts. This paper presents evidence suggesting that both teams promoted their campaigns through automation on Twitter. Although the Macri campaign was subtler, both teams appear to have used automation to the same end: maximizing the diffusion of party content and creating an inflated image of their popularity. Neither team attempted to muffle or engage with opposing voices through automation. We argue that in a political culture fixated on the appearance of popularity, the use of automation to simulate mass support appears an organic development as campaigning enters the still unregulated Twittersphere. We compare our findings to the uses of automation in the Russian Twittersphere and conclude that there may be greater variation in the political usage of Twitter between political contexts than between different types of political event occurring in the same country.
"International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society" – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 28, 2016
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