Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. But they are all over social media. Bots, short for robots, are automated applications – both good and bad – that either help with Web search and repetitive tasks or wreak havoc. And as more of them flood cyberspace, authenticating the content they push will be a major challenge.
Just this week, an alleged Facebook Live video went viral. The video purportedly showed a live feed of an International Space Station spacewalk. But there’s only one problem with the story. It isn’t real.
All it takes is for people to start writing bots to create numerous social media accounts and then “start spreading a certain narrative using these accounts,” said Distil Networks CEO Rami Essaid.
That includes false opinion polls that seek to “convey a false reality.”
“We don’t know just how many of these are influenced by subjective users going to certain polls or if it is influence by bots that are skewing the narrative,” he said. But that opinion, or this reality “is real to someone,” he added, and it is “being magnified by orders of magnitude that aren’t real.”