Lithuanian parliamentarians seek to stop bots spreading propaganda on social media


An expert working group of the National Security and Defence Committee (NSGK) discussed malicious activities of bots in social media on Friday and outlined concrete proposals to prevent the spread of misinformation through fake automated accounts. According to committee chairman Laurynas Kasciunas, the proposed amendments to the law will be presented to the Seimas during the upcoming spring session.

Lithuanian parliamentarians seek to stop bots spreading propaganda on social media

“There are many different spaces through which hostile propaganda can spread – radio, television and so on. We, as a state, have offered our own solutions and have already done a lot to secure ourselves in this regard, but there remains such an area as social media. And we are well aware of the problem when a hostile country, a state or its representatives start manipulating social platforms through automated bot-accounts,” the Committee Chairman outlined the situation.

Bots are used to artificially increase the spread of disinformation and propaganda, and their main purpose is to create information hype and achieve goals that benefit the hostile state.

It could be hundreds of thousands of fake accounts

These can be thousands, hundreds of thousands of fake social accounts managed by automated means. The function of bots is to react to posts, comment on them, share them, increase their popularity, reach and viewership. And the purpose of all this is to give the impression that the message, which is essentially misinformation, is credible.

To curb the activities of malicious bots, Kasciunas suggests initiating amendments to two laws – the Law on Public Information and the Criminal Code. According to him, it is planned to add a new concept – online platform manipulation – to the Public Information Act.

In case of manipulation of an online platform, it is proposed to include a requirement to remove the content and stop accessing it.

It is also proposed to amend the Criminal Code and punish this activity with a fine, arrest or imprisonment for up to three years.

L. Kasciunas noted that these amendments are expected to be submitted to the Saeima during the upcoming spring session.


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