I’ve never been one to feel the need to put on a lot of makeup in order to leave the house and I haven’t been someone who felt the need to buy bots to appear cool online. But I find it deeply hypocritical to listen to journalists and politicians wring their hands about fake followers and bots given that they’ve been playing at that game for a long time. Who among them is really innocent of trying to garner attention through any means possible?
At a time when Facebook, Twitter and Google are grappling with an epidemic of political manipulation and fake news, Devumi’s fake followers also serve as phantom foot soldiers in political battles online. Devumi’s customers include both avid supporters and fervent critics of President Trump, and both liberal cable pundits and a reporter at the alt-right bastion Breitbart.
Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways.
This episode is dedicated to unpacking bots. Along with Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith’s investigation into the influence of Twitter bots, Kris Shaffer and Bill Fitzgerald’s guide on how to spot a bot, and Kin Lane’s reflections on the waves of bots and Nicholas Confessore’s exposé into the follower factory, these resources provide a useful starting point for understanding bots and there implication on society today.