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Report: Social Media Manipulation Affects Even US Senators

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FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 file photo, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, uses his smartphone during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Researchers from NATO StratCom, a NATO-accredited research group based in Riga, Latvia, paid three Russian companies 300 euros ($368) to buy 337,768 fake likes, views and shares of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, including content from verified accounts of Senators Grassley and Chris Murphy. Both senators consented to participate. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

(AP) — A vast, globalized industry of low-cost social media manipulation service providers continues to flourish, distorting both commerce and politics — including the verified social media accounts of two U.S. senators. That’s according to a new investigation by researchers from the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence. They paid just 300 euros for 337,768 fake likes, views and shares of posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, including content from the verified accounts of Senators Chuck Grassley and Chris Murphy. Both senators consented to participate in the experiment. The researchers said that while Twitter and Facebook have made some improvements, TikTok appeared defenseless.

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