By Charlotte Hervis
FOUR British MP’s have been accused of breaching their code of conduct by “manipulating the viewing public” and deceiving Twitter users.
The accounts Lib Dem leader Ed Davey and three Labour MPs, Zarah Sultana, Chris Bryant and Richard Burgon, have been identified as recipients of significant automated traffic volumes.
ThinkingSlow, a research and activist group concerned about Government overreach in areas of public health, family life and censorship of free speech, revealed new information indicating the MPs are receiving falsified Twitter traffic. ThinkingSlow has submitted a formal complaint to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards, Kathryn Stone OBE.
In their letter of complaint, ThinkingSlow said: “We believe that this matter is very serious given the fact that it is generally accepted that falsified Twitter traffic has a number of malevolent purposes.
“In the political arena, the primary purpose is to manipulate the viewing public and we believe that this is what the above mentioned boosted MPs are allowing to be done (and/or are doing) with the aim of deceiving Twitter users and the general public.
“This conduct is not consistent with each MP’s obligations under the Code of Conduct, in particular with respect to the overall obligation to act with “probity and integrity”.”
The group undertook extensive analysis of Twitter traffic volumes, including a range of metrics such as average likes per tweet.
They found that these MPs were receiving engagement at a level more than 180 times higher than MPs of nearby constituencies. These anomalies suggest automated amplification may be involved.
ThinkingSlow’s analysis went on to determine that, for some tweets, 50-80 per cent of the engagement was automated and not generated by genuine users.
The complaint to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards asks for this matter to be investigated under the provisions of section V of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. A possible breach of the general principle that MPs act with “probity and integrity” may also have occurred.
ThinkingSlow added: “We ask that you investigate these claims and, if confirmed, require the above named Boosted MPs to make public statements acknowledging the use of automated Twitter traffic, as well as taking steps to stop the amplification of their tweets.”
Redacted copy of the complaint
This may be an unpopular take these days, but I believe the ideal scenario is where politicians *can't* be punished for lying. Everyone, including public officials should have the right to be wrong, and be corrected through open discourse. Anything else is merely a very slippery slope to outright criminalization of all dissent...as we have seen.
They will simply claim say they have no knowledge of bot boosting and therefore is out of their control.