A network of Twitter accounts pushed messages to boost the share price of a biotech company as it sought approval to run a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to research provided to Bloomberg News.

The tweets promoted stock for Ocugen Inc., which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, at rates well above market value, according to research by Alethea Group, a startup that tracks disinformation. The company’s share price nearly doubled in a little more than a week.

The findings suggest a coordinated social media effort to sway interest in an otherwise little known medical technology company, according to Lisa Kaplan, Alethea Group’s founder and chief executive officer.

“Individuals sharing information about companies online is not new, but the use of social media manipulation tactics for financial gain is something we’ve long anticipated and believe will grow,” Kaplan said. “Given the volatility in the public markets, there’s increased incentive for these types of attacks, which ultimately hurts corporations, investors and stockholders.”

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