Rampant bots on Twitter helped to pump up the price of cryptocurrency, including coins traded by insiders at FTX hedge fund Alameda Research before its collapse, according to a new study from the Network Contagion Research Institute published Wednesday.

NCRI researchers conducted a scaled analysis on Twitter (now known as X) examining over 3 million tweets from Jan. 1, 2019, to Jan. 27, 2023, pertaining to 18 different cryptocurrencies in partnership with New Jersey GovSTEM Scholars. They also shared their findings with X Corp. days ahead of publication.

Mentions of certain altcoins by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who led an acquisition of Twitter that closed last October, appear to have caused prices to spike by as much as 50% within one day, the researchers found.

The NCRI study pointed to Musk’s June 24, 2023, retweet of a post featuring a kitten and the caption, “I wake up there is another PSYOP,” a coin created by a pseudonymous Twitter influencer known as Ben.eth. Trading of this altcoin nearly doubled in volume over the next day, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Separately, a Musk tweet on May 13, 2023, featuring Pepe the Frog memes led to a more than 50% increase in the price of altcoin PEPE within 24 hours. Musk’s tweet fueled both authentic discussion and bot and promotional tweets about the altcoin, which is based on a popular far-right meme.

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