Researchers tracked the authors of all tweets about the anti-mask movement posted last month. Of 36,974 posts, 2,588 came from bot accounts.
“They are spreading the bogus claims of the cranks who want us to believe Covid is not a real danger and we should ‘take a stand’ by not wearing masks.”
The researchers found that while 40 per cent of bots were active for less than six months, they still generated high levels of content. A quarter made more than 50,000 posts, some as many as 300,000.
Previous research has suggested bots account for between five and 15 per cent of all activity on Twitter. The company disputes these claims and says it has got better at identifying and removing automated accounts.