Russian Bots Rig TV Talent Show So Millionaire's Daughter Could Win
You don't need to be the best if you have Russian bots to give you an edge.
Complaints streamed in when Mikella Abramova, 11, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, won a popular Russian talent show -- 'The Voice Kids'.
Despite the judges labeling her performance 'weaker' than the other two finalists, she still won a landslide victory, taking 56.5 percent of the phone-in vote.
It was the scale of the win that raised eyebrows, even after her pop star mum -- who has more than two million Instagram followers -- called on the public for support.
A cyber security firm was hired to delve deep into the final vote count, which proved that outside influence -- specifically bots -- had significantly affected the result.
According to investigators, more than 8,000 text messages were sent from 300 phone numbers .
"All telephone numbers belong to the same operator, one rate was used," a statement from Group iB read.
All of the phones have since been disconnected.
As a result, Abramova has been dethroned and a second final has been scheduled for later this month, involving all of the contestants, and this time the voting system will be more secure.
The state-owned Channel One TV said that the scam "must be the first and last time that anyone tries to control the audience's choice".
In a statement it insisted that "children should not take the blame for actions carried out by somebody else. Each participant becomes a member of the big Voice family."
Investigators are still looking for those responsible for the dodgy results.