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COVID-19: Bots behind half Twitter calls to "reopen" America

According to a recent survey Carnegie Mellon University, lately, malicious actors are creating bots with the aim of causing false impressions but also discord, taking advantage of the global pandemic of COVID-19. Indicatively, the research states that more than half of the calls on Twitter to "reopen" America and return to normalcy, may come from bots. This news about America is another example of misinformation. It is worth noting that her subject misinformation provoked strong reactions during the 2016 elections, while at the same time the question arose as to whether the SOCIAL MEDIA are intended to bring true news to the surface or serve political or other purposes.

Since January, CMU researchers have collected 200 million Twitter posts related to COVID-19, with more than 60% of Twitter's top 1.000 retweeters being bots. In the context of the pandemic, up to twice as much activity has been observed muzzle, which verified estimates made in the past based on previous natural disasters, crises and elections, as pointed out by Kathleen Carley, a professor at the Research Institute Software of the School of Sciences Computers. According to the researchers, there are many factors that may have contributed to the increase in this activity, including excessive leisure time during the pandemic. But the increase also appears to be linked to companies hiring companies to create bots. The global nature of the pandemic makes such a tempting goal. In particular, Carley said that various countries and interest groups see the pandemic as an opportunity to serve political interests and expediencies.

There are some indications that bots are active, and determining what their activity serves is a big challenge, with its help. technology peak. In particular, artificial intelligence processes account information and examines data such as the number of followers, the frequency of tweets and the reporting network of an account. According to Carley, observing tweets more frequently than is humanly possible is an indication of bot activity. Among the misinformation spread by bots are the alleged possible treatments for COVID-19. However, bots are also linked to discussions about orders for citizens to stay home. Of course, a homemade bot designed by a demagogue is different from a tuned one campaign bot. Unfortunately, there is significant coordination around the calls for America to reopen. For example, a large number of accounts have recently been created, which is indicative of a campaign. What you might call "cyborg accounts", which can be people with bot helpers, generate 66% of tweets, while accounts which are definitely bots make up 34% of them tweets. But why is this happening? Conspiracy theories increase polarization in groups. This is what many misinformation campaigns aim to do, Carley said. People have real health and economic concerns, so many are trying to create discord. Increased polarization is expected to have significant consequences and affect areas such as citizen behavior during elections and hostility towards ethnic groups. This looks like a propaganda strategy and certainly fits Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take huge resources and resources to substantiate this, Carley said, noting that users need to be very careful with social media.


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