The Blight of the Bots

 

You might think social media is the salvation of democracy, but I think it’s a blight.

As a former newspaper editor, I deplore the mob mentality I come across on web sites like Twitter and Facebook – and in those odious chat rooms

Call me an elitist if it scratches your itch, but I am convinced media editors play a vital role in public debate. Without these “gatekeepers,” how can you trust the information you are getting? They are your validators.

On the wild and woolly web you might get anything – including such horrors as bullying and trolls. And malicious bots.

You know about bots, of course.

They’re computer programs designed to perform automated tasks. A recent Atlantic article explains::

They are the worker bees of the internet, and also the henchmen.  Some bots help refresh your Facebook feed or figure out how to rank Google search results; other bots impersonate humans and carry out devastating DDoS attacks.

The article adds:

I’m sure you know how Putin’s saboteurs used bots to subvert America’s 2016 presidential election.

Bots helped an army of human mischief makers spread lies and promote preposterous conspiracy theories designed to sabotage Hillary and get Trump elected.

This type of assault isn’t anything like the subtle bias you might notice in a mainstream newspaper or TV station. It’s part of a massive crusade designed to mess with your mind.

So if you’re tempted to dismiss mainstream media as “fake news,” think again. You might wake up to the reality that the hackers and bots on social media are actually the ones trying to fake you out

More on bots

The latest bot attack

More on Russia’s bots

More on DDoS attacks

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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