The sudden appearance of social media bots in conversations about consequential topics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, has caused concern among many.
These bots are not like robocalls or spam emails; recent studies have shown that these automated accounts are difficult to distinguish from real humans and can be found conversing on a variety of topics.
The disruption of social media by artificial intelligence (AI) is concerning for various reasons: it can make us feel less confident in our own thoughts; it may compromise privacy; and because we know these entities cannot truly represent human perspectives, they also risk misrepresenting them.
Researchers at the University of Salford found that over two million posts on Twitter about COVID-19 were created by 500,000 bots. In fact, bots have been found to be responsible for between 20 and 30% of all Twitter traffic about the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
“This research gives us insight into how bots are able to engage with these platforms undetected,” says lead author Salvatore Giorgi, a graduate student in the Department of Computer and Information Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “If a Twitter user thinks an account is human, then they may be more likely to engage with that account. Depending on the bot’s intent, the end result of this interaction could be innocuous, but it could also lead to engaging with potentially dangerous misinformation.”
Bots are a growing presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. They may pose significant threats in terms of privacy breaches, propaganda distribution, or content moderation. It is important that we learn to identify these fake accounts and understand their impact on our social networks.
social media bots, We should make sure that we do not share stories or information on social media which is first reported by bots. Even if the topic of discussion seems innocuous enough, we should still be vigilant and make sure that it is not being amplified by these bot accounts.
Privacy is compromised when we interact with bots on social media because it provides a false sense of security. It is important that people take the time to read articles and posts carefully, as well as double-check any links they are sent before clicking them.
In addition, these automated accounts can sometimes impersonate real humans or try to pass themselves off as legitimate news sources. This can create a false sense of news or information, which is then re-shared by other social media users who do not realize they are reading the opinion of a bot and not a real person.