With the US presidential election race too close to call, there are fears that social media might be misused in the hope of tipping the balance in a key state in one candidate’s favour.
Experts say a flood of false information could lead people to believe wrongly in a groundswell of opinion behind one man over another.
In particular, “Twitter bombs” are expected to fly in cyber space: unsolicited responses, retweeted multiple times by automated computer programmes.
Similar to email spam, the bomb technique has been used ever since Twitter took off.
In 2010 the election for the US Senate in Massachusetts was said to have featured a campaign message retweeted thousands of times.
The pressure on key swing states will be enormous. Opinion polls for ABC News and the Washington Post on Sunday puts both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on 48 per cent – with the Democrat still slightly ahead in the marginal states.
The risk that desperation in one camp or another may lead to a digital deception campaign is real.