Many of the Brexit Party's Twitter followers appear to be bots

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AP Photo/Rui Vieira

It’s not shocking to see Twitter bots latch on to a political campaign, but it’s not often they do so soon after a campaign starts — let alone on a large scale. That appears to be the case with the UK’s Brexit Party, however. The no-deal EU withdrawal party is only a few months old, but researchers talking to BuzzFeed News found that many of its Twitter accounts are networks of bots and other inauthentic users. The exact amount isn’t clear, but F-Secure’s Andy Patel noted that over 8,800 users — roughly 7 percent of the party’s Twitter base — were both recently recreated and disproportionately responsible for retweeting party material.

Some of these accounts have been producing massive volumes of tweets focused on Brexit, and clearly in unrealistic amounts. One tweeted 823 times in the space of a day. Some are new, while others are from outside the UK. Regardless of behavior, the surge of new followers for the party suggested “inorganic” behavior.

Just who is behind the accounts isn’t clear. It could be “astroturfing” where organizers or supporters artificially inflate follower counts and messages to make the party seem more popular than it is. However, it could also represent an outside influence campaign trying the familiar tactic of stoking political tensions to weaken the country’s resolve. A spokesperson claimed the party didn’t have any more control over individuals creating accounts than it did “the weather,” but that didn’t address concerns about highly automated account creation or buying legions of fake followers.

Twitter has banned at least seven of the suspicious accounts, and a spokesperson maintained that the social network would “robustly enforce” its policies. There are anti-abuse measures Twitter is taking that the researchers can’t see, the representative added. However, BuzzFeed understood that Twitter hadn’t found evidence of a coordinated plot and didn’t consider the Brexit debate to be a major problem. There’s something questionable happening, though, and this at least suggests that it’s good to be wary when politically motivated groups enjoy a sudden rush of popularity on social networks.

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'Black Mirror' drops super creepy Season 5 trailer

It’s here, people. Black Mirror has burst back onto the scene with a suitably creepy trailer for its fifth Season.

Featuring appearances from the likes of Miley Cyrus and Anthony Mackie, the 90-second video includes plenty of familiar Black Mirror tropes: smartphones aplenty, creepy little robots, and basically a whole lot of people looking generally miserable and disturbed with how their lives have turned out.

We can’t wait!

Black Mirror Season 5 drops on Netflix June 5.

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'Game of Thrones' star Pilou Asbæk responds to Season 8 criticism

Euron has got Dan and David's backs.
Euron has got Dan and David’s backs.
Image: hbo

Warning: Contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, episode 5.

Not everybody is loving the final Game of Thrones Season.

Despite the show having a solid 91 percent rating overall on Rotten Tomatoes, the current season is only rated 73 percent. And the Season 8 audience score is a not-so-good-at-all 44percent. 

Obviously it was always going to be tricky to please everyone, and it’s worth noting that not all fans feel the same way — there have been plenty of Reddit threads praising the most recent episode, for instance. But still — the anger from some corners is undeniable. 

In a interview with Insider, Pilou Asbæk (aka the recently deceased Euron Greyjoy) addressed it directly.

“I’m rooting for Dan and David,” Asbæk said, referring to showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff. “For them to be happy with what they have created.”

He went on to say that he thinks, ultimately, they will be happy.

“I think it will stand the test of time.”

“Because right now, people are very angry,” Asbæk said. “Some people are very angry and some people are very happy. I think, guys, just … please. Everyone has done the best work they could, under the circumstances they could, and I think it will stand the test of time.”

“Honestly, I swear to God I think that. So I hope Dan and David are going to end up on the throne.”

It’s a sweet response, but it’s worth noting that Asbæk also admits in that interview that he hasn’t watched the show since he got a part in it — so he can only really judge its merits from an insider’s perspective.

At this point it feels like the show will stand the test of time regardless. It’s already broken ratings records and been hugely successful.

But, whether or not it’ll end on a high note is a whole other question.

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Vodafone will launch the UK's first 5G service on July 3rd

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The UK is finally getting 5G, and Vodafone will be the first network to provide it. The company says its 5G will go live on July 3rd, with 5G roaming following later this summer. And, crucially, it won’t cost any more than 4G.

There are some caveats, of course. To start with it’ll be available in just seven cities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. As the press blurb says, these “will be among the first cities in the world to receive 5G,” which is a questionable selling point for technology — global coverage is still spotty at best.

And yes, while Vodafone says the service will be “priced the same as 4G,” customers wanting to take advantage of the service will need a 5G phone, which typically cost more. There could also be additional premiums for new customers.

Considering EE has been making noises about 5G for a while — and the fact that Vodafone was recently named the UK’s worst network for the eighth consecutive year — it’s a surprise Vodafone got there first with this announcement. However, EE has got a couple of key events coming up, including an appearance at today’s OnePlus event and a media briefing next week, so its own announcement might not be too far behind.

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Harry and Meghan share a new pic of baby Archie for Mother's Day

Image: Dominic Lipinski / WPA Pool / Getty Images

Baby feet: a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted a new photo of baby Archie (more specifically, his feet) to Instagram on Sunday alongside a heartfelt Mother’s Day message. The image’s backdrop is full of forget-me-nots: Princess Diana’s favorite flower.

“Paying tribute to all mothers today – past, present, mothers-to-be, and those lost but forever remembered,” the post says. “We honor and celebrate each and every one of you.”

The post also included the poem ‘lands’ by Nayyirah Waheed. (Meghan has shared her work before.)

To clarify, it’s not Mother’s Day in the UK — that’s generally in March. Does this mean that Meghan Markle, an American who joined the British royal family, will get to celebrate two Mother’s Days per year? Wow. Her mind.

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