Bots. Is there anything they can’t do?
The Internet Research Agency indictment accuses a troll bot farm of trying to influence the election in what the media claims is the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor. 9/11 need not apply.
Bots are everywhere.
“Bots Are Trying to Help Populists Win Italy’s Election,” claims Bloomberg. “Russian Bots Are Using 2016 Tactics to Hijack the Gun Debate,” shrieks Vanity Fair. ABC spins that bots are trying to make Black Panther look bad. “Rampaging Twitter ‘bots’ bred in Suffolk farmhouse,” the London Times asserts.
This media madness might make you think that bots are some sort of new and advanced technology. But you can see them in the comments and they’ve been around forever. Automated programs that log into social media accounts are not a new technology. Internet users of a bygone era remember seeing them in chat rooms and on bulletin boards without ever rampaging around Suffolk farmhouses.
Bots have become a convenient media scapegoat. The new formula is “Bots + Thing We Disagree With = Proof We’re Right”. That’s why there are stories claiming that Russian bots are tweeting against gun control or Islamic migration. And it explains the “Russian Bots Rigged the Election for Trump” meme.
Bots are an informational technique. Media spin reverse engineers the technique to discredit the idea. Not only is that a fallacy, but bots just piggyback on popular trends to gain influence. Russian bots don’t tweet about gun control because they care about guns, but because they get retweeted. The same was true of the bots promoting Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. There are a million brands doing the same thing with bots and influencers. But that’s okay because they push politically correct messages….
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