Beware of the Bots: EU referendum petition plagued by fake signatures

An online petition calling for a second EU referendum has been hijacked by automated bots adding false signatures.

It has been claimed by some forum users that they had set up scripted programs to automatically sign the petition.  Examples of false signatures include thousands originating from Vatican City and Antarctica.  At the time of the publishing of this article, The House of Commons petitions committee had already removed 77,000 signatures from the petition, and was investigating the sources of the false signatures.

The petition currently has more than 3.6 million signatures, however many could have been added by automated programs called bots. The government’s petitions website does not appear to have a system in place to detect bots, such as the widely used ‘captcha’ function that asks a user to recognise letters and numbers in an image in order to ‘prove’ they are a human.  This lack of security has been criticised by many web users, who feel a government site should have better security in place.

Although Prime Minister David Cameron has already said there will be no second vote, the petition continues to gather hundreds of signatures a minute.

The House of Commons petitions committee has said it will continue to monitor the petition for suspicious activity; and with hundreds of signatures being added each minute, it looks like they’re going to have their work cut out.

referendum photo

 

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