Are Bots Brainwashing Us?

Hey everyone,

If you’ve been closely following politics and reading the news over the past four years, you’ve probably at least heard of bots. But what exactly are they? And why do they matter?

A bot is an autonomous program on the internet or other network that can interact with systems and users. A bot can be programmed to do all sorts of things like write tweets about specific subjects on twitter at a specific time each day. A bot network or “botnet” is a group of these bots who work in concert with each other at the behest of whoever programmed them.

Bot network

Bot network

What’s worrisome about these botnets is that they’re becoming shockingly realistic and more difficult to distinguish from real human users, and real human users are having their views influenced by these bots employed by dishonest political actors both foreign and domestic. It is widely agreed upon by reputable sources that the past two U.S. elections (the 2016 election in particular) have been heavily influenced by botnets designed to manipulate public opinion. Unwitting social media users are being bombarded with dishonest propaganda from these botnets on a daily basis.

In summary, make sure you’re getting your info from real people! If you want to know more about this subject, Timothy Laquintano and Annette Vee have done an invaluable in-depth study that it would behoove all to read.

Just a friendly heads up for all you political junkies out there. Peace!

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