Evidence of bots in the Virginia gubernatorial race

Empty chairs are seen at a polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

There is evidence that social media bots helped stir online activity around a controversial ad against Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in the buildup to election day today, The Washington Post reports. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's campaign cited a third-party analysis that found automated Twitter accounts tweeted using terms linked to groups behind the ad, allegedly inflaming online tensions.

Why it matters: Similar automated social media accounts helped to stir online chatter over divisive issues on a national scale during the presidential election last year. Facebook, Google and Twitter came under fire on Capitol Hill last week over how Russian actors used their sites to spread controversial content and ads.