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Elon Musk has been making quite a splash in the tech world lately Announced the acquisition of Twitter. Just a few weeks later, he announced $44 billion deal on hold, because he thinks Twitter has far more spam and bot users than they claim. Musk worries about robots — and so should all of us.
A bot is a computer program that automates actions that a user would perform. It can create accounts and personas, search for specific keywords, like and comment on tweets, and click ads. Traditionally, bots have been used simply for automation, such as ad click fraud, artificially inflating the ranking of a particular website (search engine optimization), or rendering services useless by bombarding them with requests (denial of service attacks). Today, however, advances in artificial intelligence have led to the creation of robots that can do more. Robots can now generate text in the form of news articles, stories and even research papers in seconds.Some complex robots can also Synthetic (very real) media to support their claims. To make matters worse, as humans, we can’t even distinguish machine-generated text and images from human-created text and images.
Related: Fake Accounts and Bots: Is Marketing on Twitter Worth It?
Selling robotic services is a booming business. You can buy retweets for tweets, followers on LinkedIn, views for your YouTube channel, and likes for Instagram posts on many sites. And it’s not that expensive either — you can buy 1,000 Instagram followers for 34 cents and 1,000 Twitter followers for less than $5. One website says you can buy up to 5 million Instagram followers. Given the number of such sites, one can only imagine the number of bots on social media. Not only are robots very cheap to buy, but text and image generation capabilities are also very accessible. The technology already exists, and anyone with internet access can create fake news articles and videos with a Google search.
Related: Why the rise of bots is a concern for social networks
What does it mean?
First, we can no longer believe everything we see on the internet that seems to be backed up by evidence.So a tweet that Ukraine has surrendered and ordered troops to withdraw may not be true, even if it has A clip showing the Ukrainian president saying this. Second, numbers on social media are inherently meaningless; an influencer with 2 million followers may not be an influencer at all (or even a real person), and a tweet with 1 million Views of the tweet. It’s very easy for an adversary with the right resources (not so extensive) to blanket bomb the internet with fake news and drown out real news from legitimate sources.
Ultimately, the burden of detecting and cleaning up the bot network is on the platform. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter serve conflicting interests—their own businesses and those of consumers. Removing bots keeps the web clean, but aggressive filtering also blocks real users and their engagement and clicks, which ultimately affects revenue.But platforms must focus on doing the right thing (and the legal thing; starting in 2021, the FTC has Start the fight against bot services Company is charged under the BOTS Act). Bots make it harder to get real user engagement and reduce consumer trust in the platform. Would you be willing to put in the effort to build your brand on your website if you knew that out of the million followers you gained, maybe none of them were even real people?
RELATED: How to avoid being scammed by fake-following influencers
what can you do?
As a non-technical person, what can you do to protect yourself from robots? Unfortunately, there is no good answer to this question. Be wary of what you read and believe on social media, and don’t promise (or share) an opinion until you have confirmed it from multiple independent sources (if a tweet shows a CDC report claiming to prove that vaccines cause autism, take a look at you whether the same report can be found on the CDC website).Challenging the belief that a video of an event is evidence that it actually happened, or that a post with a million likes does mean a million people Actually like it. When you see a retweet, retweet or quote, please go directly to the official source’s Twitter account and verify it.
Musk is right to be concerned about the number of bot accounts. He may not be the most polite person in the world, he may be doing it for the wrong reasons, but he is fighting for you, me, and society as a whole.
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