Charlie Warzel for BuzzFeed:
Twitter is certainly clogged with bots — a number of which are designed to elegantly spread information that’s far from credible and push narratives. Scholars at Oxford suggest bots accounted for 18 percent of Twitter’s traffic related to the 2016 election and that roughly one-third of pro-Trump tweets came from bots.
Yet while the numbers sound substantial, the true effect these bots have on political discourse is still incredibly hard to quantify. And focusing on Twitter’s bot scourge is an enticing but partial explanation for a far more difficult problem. It’s also ignorant of the very real, very human media machine bent on pushing a pro-Trump narrative and trolling its opponents at all costs, for whom bots are just one of many tools.