Russian bots ruin the children’s talent show The Voice Kids

May 20, 2019 | Media
Recently, a lot has been said about the impact of new technologies on the possibilities of setting political choices or cybercrime aimed at specific countries. In Russia, however, there was a precedent case in which bots influenced the result of voting in ... children's talent competition The Voice Kids. This is an insulting thing that a non-accidental person won.

The winner of the song competition The Voice Kids Russia was 11-year-old Mikella Abramova, who won 56.5% of all votes. This means that in a telephone vote via SMS, she has been supported over 30,000 times.

Mikella Abramova is not a completely anonymous child – she is the daughter of Russian singer and millionaire Yan Abamov. The girl received 10 times more votes than the competitor from the second place.

The Group-IB organization, which deals with network security on a daily basis, looked at it. A short investigation showed that 8,000 of the messages examined were sent from just 300 telephone numbers. Does this Russian girl have such a devoted group of fans? Well, not exactly. 

In the Group-IB report it states that the whole process was automated. The matter was unmasked by a technical problem that was led by the person responsible for programming the bots. In some text messages, in addition to the candidate number, there was a repetitive part of the code, with the following text: “07 31: 2019-04-26 22:47:31” . It is still not determined who specifically was responsible for controlling the entire action, but it is very easy to indicate the person responsible for putting the appropriate amount of money into it.

In this situation, of course, you can not overcome the frustration of an 11-year-old child who might not even be aware that someone wants to help her at all costs. Russian television has already issued a statement in which it clearly states that “children participating in the program can not be held responsible for such harmful activities . ” 

The final results were canceled and announced to be repeated in June 2019. A new voting system will be introduced to prevent similar manipulation.

Now take all your deep breath and think for a moment. Is it not a coincidence that nowadays almost every vote in the network is set by bots or people using various exploits? Is it any sense to take part in competitions in which an unspecified group of Internet users “votes”?