Were bots behind the GameStop stock surge from less than $20 per share to nearly $350 per share? One cybersecurity firm is saying that may very well be the case.

A new report from PiiQ Media, provided to Reuters, found that social media bots on some of the biggest online platforms were “hyping” GameStop and other “meme stocks” such as AMC. The same report also found similar activity behind the sudden increase of popularity in Dogecoin, a meme-based cryptocurrency.

PiiQ Media’s report says that it looked closely at keywords related to these stock surges, such as “GME,” the stock symbol Gamestop; and “Hold the Line,” a phrase popular among Reddit users encouraging others to not sell their shares.  When comparing posts about these keywords to social media conversation surrounding non-meme stocks from Jan. 28 to Feb. 18, researchers found patterns correlating with bots among the GameStop and meme stock discourse.

The cybersecurity firm says it analyzed posts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

Earlier in February, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said his company did not find any “significant” bot activity surrounding the GameStop stock surge. However, while PiiQ Media did not analyze Reddit, it told Reuters that it would “expect to see a similar pattern” of bot-like activity on the platform. Reddit is the social media platform that acted as the original source for the meme stock activity in January. 

It should be noted that real human beings did indeed start the conversation and push surrounding the GameStop stock and other meme stocks. The report indicates that bots were at least partly responsible for hyping and promoting these stocks once the initial Redditor-inspired campaign took off, however.

Another important aspect to keep in mind is that not all bot use is nefarious in nature. There are many legitimate applications of automated accounts on social media, such as Twitter handles that automatically keep track of and post about the price of stock shares.

This new report from PiiQ Media also adds an interesting layer to a separate report from CREOpoint, a firm that tracks misinformation and manipulated media surrounding brands.

CREOpoint CEO, JC Goldenstein, tells Mashable that the company had found that while most of the attention was paid to Reddit during the GameStop stock surge, the event was racking up more views, shares, and overall engagement on mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

For example, CREOpoint found that the Gamestop surge was engaged with around 3 million times on Reddit between Jan. 21 and Jan. 31. However, Facebook shares around that topic brought in more than 8 million shares alone and YouTube videos about the meme stocks netted a whopping 28 million views.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently investigating what happened to cause GameStop stock to skyrocket — as Redditors say — “to the moon.”

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