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The age of social bots

Celebrities and other influencers on social media generally have a large number of followers. However, several of these followers may not always be genuine accounts. Influencers often use social bots to boost their numbers. Social bots are automated accounts. They are capable of posting content or interacting with other users on social media autonomously. They have been under a lot of scrutiny and attention in recent years. These accounts can play a valuable part in the social media ecosystem by answering questions about a variety of topics in real-time or providing automated updates about news stories or events. At the same time, some people may use them to attempt to alter perceptions of political discourse on social media, spread misinformation, or manipulate online rating and review systems. As social media has attained an increasingly prominent position in overall, these bots are becoming a growing problem.

 

Today, celebrities like Donald Trump (47.5 million) and Kim Kardashian West (58.5 million) have an outrageous number of followers on Twitter. However, it wasn’t always this way. A New York Times article reported that these accounts, as well as other celebrities like TED speakers, professional athletes, actors, and executives, have a large share of social bots in their followers’ lists. One of the companies that sold these bots was Devumi. It was an obscure American company whose Manhattan address is a fraud. The founder’s LinkedIn resume is a work of fabrication as well. It claims he has advanced degrees from M.I.T. and Princeton that both universities have denied.

 

Onur Varol, a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Complex Network Research of Northeastern University, has been studying the problem of social bots for several years. He found out that between 9 and 15 per cent of active Twitter accounts are bots. Varol even created a platform called the Botometer. It analyses Twitter accounts and scores them based upon how likely they are to be bots. His findings were also cited in the Times article about social bots.

 

Harman Singh