You a bot?

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
2 March 2018
New Tech

Bots are everywhere.

Bot problems
Twitter’s got problems. They’ve been in hot water recently for allowing hundreds of thousands of bot accounts to operate on the social platform. A lot of them seem to be legit owned by real people, but they’re automated accounts that flood that platform with content that isn’t exactly user friendly.

Getting political
When you think of bots, you usually think of irritating accounts spreading religious or political beliefs. There have been a lot of claims that bots from nation-states like Russia flooded Twitter in support of Brexit in the UK last year, and to promote or belittle US presidential candidates.

So why has Twitter got such a problem with bots? Well, they’re easy to make and it’s even easier to spread propaganda en masse, anything to influence or divide people’s opinions.

Lock out
Twitter seems to have started a purge on fake accounts, though. They’re suspending any suspected bot account, in what’s being dubbed #TwitterLockout. In the US, lots of right-wing users claim to have lost thousands of followers overnight in the latest crackdown. But, it was more accounts being suspended to clarify their identity, rather than a mass delete with a political bias.

Follow the rules
Twitter is apolitical, stating “We enforce our rules without political bias. Every day we proactively look for suspicious account behaviours that indicate inorganic or automated activity, violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse. And every day we take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including by asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it.”

They’ve now published a new set of rules on automation, using multiple accounts and posting identical content. Basically, you can’t do it.

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