The study, published by the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence, showed that the organization was able to buy engagement and followers on social media from a host of companies and then test whether the companies responded to feedback reporting the accounts.
The organization paid 11 Russian companies and five companies in Europe around 300 euros and were able to buy 3,500 comments, 25,700 likes, 20,000 views, and 5,100 followers, according to the study.
After four weeks, the study found that 4 in 5 of their fake accounts were still on the platforms.
“Based on this experiment and several other studies we have conducted over the last two years, we assess that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are still failing to adequately counter inauthentic behavior on their platforms,” the study reads. “Self-regulation is not working. The manipulation industry is growing year by year. We see no sign that it is becoming substantially more expensive or more difficult to conduct widespread social media manipulation.”
The experiment was carried out over six weeks from May to June.
You can read all of the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence study here.