Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Event recap | Countering bot swarms, mass false accounts, and deep fakes, Part 1

Event Recap by the GeoTech Center

Related Experts: Pablo Breuer, Sara-Jayne Terp, Alex Ruiz, David Bray,

Americas Disinformation Internet Technology & Innovation

Find the full GeoTech Hour series here.

Event description

A former Facebook data scientist on the company’s integrity team, Sophie Zhang, recently identified that Facebook wasn’t paying enough attention to coordinated disinformation networks. This included a loophole in Facebook policies linked to creation of unlimited numbers of fake “pages,” which, unlike user profiles, don’t have to correspond to an actual person but could still like, comment on, react to, and share content. 

The challenge of countering bot swarms (automated programs that are not humans and can draw away and deny system resources or attention from actual humans) and mass false accounts is not a new phenomenon. Rather this tactic was once only available to nation-states, but as tech has become democratized, individuals can now also carry out such attacks, creating challenges for social media platforms. 

For example, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Anti-Vax Watch found that only twelve prominent anti-vaccine leaders are responsible for about two-thirds of anti-vaccine content on major social media sites. Such challenges have been growing since the mid 2010s, when most of the general public were unaware of how bot swarms could make a voices look and appear like a much larger group. These bot-human hybrids (also known by researchers as “cyborgs”) can deny system resources from actual humans and pose challenges for public and private organizations alike. 

Join us for a two-part special GeoTech Hour series. On Wednesday, April 21, the first part of this special GeoTech Hour series will focus on the just how the democratization of technologies has created a systemic issue that requires whole of society solutions and strategies. The event will assemble individuals who have spent the last decade working on different parts of the challenges and on both the defensive and offensive sides of employing tech to counter coordinated inauthentic behavior. 

On Wednesday, April 28, the second part II of this special GeoTech Hour series will continue the conversation on new data and technological solutions to identify bot swarms and mass false accounts that are only now possible, as well as the importance of recognizing that these are challenges of human belief. The second GeoTech Hour also will consider novel strategies to counter what, up until now, has mostly been a defensive posture in the face of those who would spread coordinated inauthentic behavior.


Pablo Breuer
Nonresident Senior Fellow, GeoTech Center
Atlantic Council

Alex Ruiz
Nonresident Senior Fellow, GeoTech Center
Atlantic Council

Sara-Jayne Terp
Nonresident Senior Fellow, GeoTech Center
Atlantic Council

Hosted by

David Bray
Director, GeoTech Center
Atlantic Council

Previous episode

Wed, Apr 14, 2021

Event recap | Agriculture technology: Opportunities and challenges for new farmers

An episode of the GeoTech Hour exploring the intersection of technology, policy, and the global food system.

Event Recap by the GeoTech Center

Americas Inclusive Growth
Logo of the Commission on the Geopolitical Impacts of New Technologies and Data. Includes an 8-point compass rose in the middle with the words "Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Benevolent" at the bottom.

GeoTech Center

Championing positive paths forward that societies can pursue to ensure new technologies and data empower people, prosperity, and peace.