Internet is a necessity and a technology that has become deeply embedded into our society. Today we use the internet for so many things that range from entertainment activities to more serious stuff like work and getting an education.
The internet was something that was already on the verge of global dominance, however, its usage pace and consumer numbers shot up in the past couple of years when humanity was going through its worst phase both in terms of medical hazards and economic recession due to the COVID pandemic. As physical interactions and human mobility were completely prohibited during these times so people found alternatives to continue their day-to-day workings over the internet.
At the moment there are more than 4.88 billion people that are actively subscribed to the internet, and this makes up more than half of the population. One reason behind this high user base is the increase in usage that we already discussed above, but apart from that, the internet has also become quite cost-effective and easily accessible to people, which has significantly contributed to this increased push in the usage of the internet.
Due to advancements in technology internet has come into the reach of mainstream consumers. Consumers can now get the services from any reputed provider at a very meager cost, one such example of this is Cox internet plans that are quite cheap even for high-speed packages.
Internet and Social Media
We have already discussed that the internet is now being used in so many walks of life that it has almost become inseparable from us. From educational institutions, corporate infrastructure, business entities, healthcare facilities, and even the entertainment industry. However, the biggest contribution of the internet has been towards communication and mass media. In contrast to traditional communication mediums like the telephone, the internet not only improved the quality of services but also decreased the cost of communication.
Today we have mediums like video conferencing, Internet calling, and the most important out of all, social media. All these communication mediums are a significant improvement over their traditional counterparts and are much more accessible to people for being cost-effective and readily available due to the internet and the smart devices that most of us have today.
Plus a tool like social media has such an influence today that through it, anyone can put their word in front of the world, change the narrative, show the plight of people, and even influence the masses to a good cause. Social media is a new platform for the people from the people, as it reaches and covers the areas, communities, and places that are often ignored by the mainstream media. But there are downsides to all types of technology and the same is the case with social media
Fake News, Bots, and Social Media
With so many benefits of the internet, this is also a fact that there are a huge number of malicious uses for which this technology can be employed. All it depends on the person that is using the internet and unfortunately not many on the web have noble intentions. Technology can be used for quite destructive purposes and we have seen that in form of bots that are computer-generated accounts controlled by a user and often used to create a malicious agenda for some individual or a group. These are the stats of bot accounts across different social media platforms.
Oscar 2022 Incident Involving Bots and Fake Accounts
Comparing three of the biggest social media platforms, here are the stats of their fake and bot accounts.
- Almost 15% of all Twitter accounts are bots.
- 12% of Instagram profiles and users are fake.
- 1.7 Billion Spam and fake accounts are deleted quarterly by Facebook.
Fake accounts are a noticeable part of social media and over 10% of accounts on most platforms. One might say that these are just some fake accounts and what harm can they possibly do? Here’s why this trend is extremely dangerous. Since social media holds quite a significance today in shaping the narrative of the masses, we can explain this through the example of the Oscars in 2022.
In 2022, the Oscars introduced a new award in the fan-favorite category whose winner was to be picked through online users’ vote, this was done as a way to engage the audience.The winner of this category was Zack Snyder Justice League, which won the fan vote in a landslide. However, it was later reported that most of these votes were made using bots on Twitter. It was estimated that over 50% of those votes came from bots at a minimum,while the extent of this was predicted to be as high as 75%.
Stocks Manipulation and Bots
Thatwas a simple case of using bots to win something, but here’s where bots get much more dangerous. Thereis concrete evidence that at anygiven moment, about 30 to 70 percent of cryptocurrency activity and trends on social media are driven by bots. What this means is that any company can use bots to try and artificially pump a stock or even spread rumors against a rival to crash its business and stocks to make quick, easy, and dirty money in a short period of time.
Alleged Role of Bots in US Presidential Election of 2016
These are some ways how companies, stocks, and finances can be affected because of bots. But they are also actively involved in spreading fake news and influencing politics. I mean who can forget the infamous Russian involvement in the US Presidential Election of 2016 where it was found out that Russian hackers hacked Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and spread fake and politically damaging news on major social media platforms through bots. This fake propaganda helped change the tide of the election in Trump’s favor and despite Hillary having a popular vote, the election was won by Trump only because some bots successfully manipulated the people’s perception against Hillary Clinton.
Bots are Getting Smarter
All this was fine and many avid internet users could easily identify bots. But today, with the evolution in technology and artificial intelligence things are getting worse.Bots are only getting smarter from here. Still, today, bots are fairly easy to notice but are quite better than a decade ago. Bot accounts normally go through a process of being made and spend months if not years of staying dormant or doing regular social media activity. Once that happens and they aren’t identified as bots by the AI of major social media platforms like Twitter, once given a clean chitthey slowly but steadilystart spamming more. Also, the type of content bots write has improved over time, where they do more realistic tweets and comments. And in some casescan do basic conversations through evolving AI technologies.
The Internet has proved to be a blessing for us but this is also true that in hands of malicious entities it has also become an easy tool to spread fake news. And with the use of bots that are becoming smart and efficient due to evolving and sophisticated AI technology has posed an even greater threat to what is right and what is wrong in this constantly evolving online ecosystem.