Smoke and mirror bot accounts driving 80% of vaping and tobacco tweets

Smoke and mirrors account for 80% of Twitter vaping & tobacco marketing

Automated social media accounts have been found responsible for the lion's share of marketing missives concerning vaping and e-cigarettes on Twitter, according to a new study.

Analysis by the Nicholson Foundation found that such ghost accounts accounted for close to 80% of all Twitter conversations concerning vaping and tobacco. Much of the traffic was exposed to underage members.

Detailed analysis of the content found most bots were focused on peddling misinformation about e-cigarettes, undermining official pronouncements from public health bodies and scientists.

Raquel Mazon Jeffers, head of research on population health at The Nicholson Foundation, said: “These are really persistent marketing techniques that are misinformed or are spreading misinformation, and it seems to be fueling a new generation of nicotine addicts in youth.”

E-cigarette usage has exploded in recent years among teenagers, jumping from a 1.5% share in 2011 to 20.8% in 2018, leaving health experts scrabbling to establish the potential health risks.

The report follows an FDA warning that tobacco companies have been illegally marketing properties to children.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.