The challenge of countering bot swarms (swarms of automated programs which could potentially draw away and deny system resources or attention from actual humans) and mass false accounts is not a new phenomenon – rather this challenge is something that only nation-states could do online since the start of the 2010 and, as tech has become democratized, individuals now in 2021 can do with ease. Other social media platforms face similar challenges.
For example, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Anti-Vax Watch for example finds that only 12 prominent anti-vaccine leaders are responsible for about two-thirds of anti-vaccine content on major social media sites. These challenges have been growing since the mid 2010s – when most of the general public were unaware of how bot swarms could amplify a few human individuals to look and appear like a much larger number of people. The public is growing increasingly aware of a reality where few people can recruit millions of human members of the public and indoctrinate them with fear and doubt. These bot-human hybrids (also known by researchers as “cyborgs”) can deny system resources or attention from actual humans and pose challenges for public and private organizations alike.
This episode is the second part of a two-part special GeoTech Hour series. On Wednesday, April 28, we continued the conversation focusing on new data and technological solutions to identify bot swarms and mass false accounts, with special focus on human perceptions of media-mediated reality.
Technical Research Manager
Stanford Internet Observatory
Nonresident Fellow, GeoTech Center
Director, GeoTech Center