Tag Archives: social networks
Bots have been around for years and they used to be easy to spot. They had random photos for avatars (often of a sultry woman), used computer-generated names (like Jen934107), and shared utter drivel (mostly links to pornography sites).
But today’s bots, to better camouflage their identity, have real-sounding names. They keep human hours, stopping activity during the middle of the night and picking up again in the morning. They share photos, laugh out loud — LOL! — and even engage in conversations with each other. And there are millions of them.
These imaginary citizens of the Internet have surprising power, making celebrities, wannabe celebrities and companies seem more popular than they really are, swaying public opinion about culture and products and, in some instances, influencing political agendas. (Nick Bilton, NYTimes.com)
Image: New York Times
On average, each bot attracted 62 new followers and received 33 incoming tweets (mentions and retweets). But Hwang and his colleagues also found that the human-to-human activity changed within the target groups when the socialbots were introduced. They noted a 43 percent increase in follows, compared to the control period averaged over all the groups. However, one group exhibited a 355 percent increase in this connection rate. Further work will explore why this may have happened. (Mike Orcutt, MIT Technology Review)
Cover story of interactions magazine March/April 2012 (ACM subscription needed for full access)