How social networks can be used to bias votes

Via Charles Arthur, Nature editorial board:

Politicians’ efforts to gerrymander — redraw electoral-constituency boundaries to favour one party — often hit the news. But, as a paper published in Nature this week shows, gerrymandering comes in other forms, too.

The work reveals how connections in a social network can also be gerrymandered — or manipulated — in such a way that a small number of strategically placed bots can influence a larger majority to change its mind, especially if the larger group is undecided about its voting intentions (A. J. Stewart et al. Nature 573, 117–118; 2019).

The researchers, led by mathematical biologist Alexander Stewart of the University of Houston, Texas, have joined those who are showing how it can be possible to give one party a disproportionate influence in a vote.

It is a finding that should concern us all.

A masterful understandment.