The final result of Russia's version of the popular TV singing talent show, "The Voice Kids," has been cancelled after it was found that thousands of automated calls and text messages were used to rig voting in favor of its 10-year-old winner. Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Group-IB was brought in to examine the results after complaints were raised over the victory of Mikella Abramova, the daughter of well-known Russian popstar Alsou and millionaire Yan Abramov...
On Thursday, Group-IB's researchers said that, after analyzing the voting data, there had been "massive automated sending of SMS messages in favour of one participant." Sequential phone numbers were used to make more than 30,000 automated calls into the show's voting line for the contestant, IB Group wrote in a statement on its website. Another 300 telephone numbers were used to send 8,000 text messages, the statement said, noting that the automated calls and messages were made by so-called 'bots' -- software programs that can be directed to repeat tasks over and over.
The findings prompted Channel 1 to announce that it was annulling the results, saying the investigation had confirmed there was "an outside influence" that had affected the outcome. In a statement on its website, the channel said it would now organize a new "special show" in which all the contestants would compete again on May 24. One of show's hosts warned their audience not to take the reality competition too seriously. "Let's not forget that it is only a jolly game of 'who sings best.'"
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