EU referendum online petition hijacked by bots

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An online petition calling for a second EU referendum has been hijacked by automated bots adding thousands of false signatures. Posts on the 4chan message board indicated that some users had scripted programs to automatically sign the petition. Other sources from the likes of the petition committees twitter page show that they are handling fraudulent signatures.

The petition’s data showed signatories from countries around the world, including Iceland, the Cayman Islands, and Tunisia, and in some cases there were more signatures than the total population. The website’s only identity “test” is a simple checkbox asking to confirm you are either a British citizen or that you are a resident of the UK. While postcodes are required, street addresses are not and no proof of ID is needed.

People from different countries have been tweeting that they signed the petition. Mark Mennell, who is Australian and used to live in the UK, used his old postcode to sign. He said: “Anyone in the world can do it, it seems … It’s a complete farce.”

Overall, close to 2.5m signatures had been garnered from within the UK by Sunday lunchtime, making up an overwhelming proportion of the whole, although it’s difficult to tell how many of these were genuine. Some members of the 4chan message board have claimed responsibility for the hijack.

“I voted 33,000 times. Left a script running while I was taking a shower,” wrote one member.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already said there will be no second vote. The House of Commons petitions committee has said it will continue to monitor the petition for “suspicious activity.”

  Source: The Guardian
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