"Black-hat automation is skewing the national conversation."

Bots having a greater impact on the U.S. election than most people realise

#Politics

Thu, Oct 13th, 2016 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Ben Halpern on DEV, much of the activity seen on social media behind the plethora of Trump supporters is actually managed by "a smaller, more fanatical group, faking this activity" using bots. The result is causing false or non-important statements to become legitimized as people argue against them.

The existence of fake accounts for the purposes of generating that lucrative social proof is a well-known issue. It was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Mitt Romney's, campaign was propped up by fake social media activity. In 2014, Instagram undertook efforts to purge their service of obviously fake accounts, and some celebrities were brutally effected. Justin Bieber lost 3,538,228 followers, Akon lost more than half of his followers, and some accounts seemingly popular accounts were revealed to be almost entirely the product of fake followers. Instagram itself lost 18,880,211 of their own followers that day, which speaks to the perverse incentives at play with these companies who benefit from perceived activity. Fiverr, a website dedicated to making it easy to buy services that cost about five dollars, has offerings where you can purchase tens of thousands of real USA retweets for five dollars. Can you picture how absurd the notion of purchasing 10,000 real retweets is? Even if a real human could make one retweet per second, it would take them almost three hours to perform this action entirely impossible action. I'd like to meet the candidate who has the stamina to make 10,000 retweets. Twitter themselves at one point released a statement claiming a whopping 8.5 percent of their user base to be known bots, and their measuring tactics seemed even conservative to me. Twitter, a company that has had a hard time growing its active users of late, and may be sold to another tech giant any day, has a lot of reason to downplay the bot demographics for fear of having their stock drop even further than it has.

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