Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram started out as a way to connect with friends, relatives, and family but with a period of time troll and bot accounts took it over. Today, Troll and bot accounts have a huge influence on every Social media platform because troll accounts simply post something and bot accounts amplify the effect of trolls by liking or engaging their content en masse, or by posting their own content in an automated fashion. They are used to influence and manipulate the conversations for their own purpose. They allow small hidden groups of people to promote information supporting their agenda on a large scale which pushes their content to the top of people’s news feeds and search results. They are a huge pain for social media and of course, it’s dangerous because it’s not obvious when you are being influenced by them or engaging with them.
These kinds of accounts are used to propagate fake information or news resulting in intense debate between groups of people. Nowadays, Trolling has become so common that most people have experienced insults in the comment section of their photos with certain name-calling or have probably seen from these bullies. Trolling has become more complicated because one cannot identify who the sender is. Whether it’s a comment on social media, and in-game message, or a post on an article, these actions can be severe and damaging, causing people to become deeply distressed and anxious. Being bullied can have a severe effect on an individual’s “physical, emotional, academic, and social well-being, and sometimes these all lead to suicides.
The research says that Social bots have been used in elections to spread fake news to propagate political agenda, this news is mostly inappropriate with no accuracy and high reaches which can easily manipulate people opinions. Bots have the potential to harm the company’s reputation or its product which can lead to financial damages also. In some studies, it has been proven that bots can access personal information such as Phone numbers, email addresses, etc, that in turn can be used for cybercrime. In recent analyses of SoundCloud, which is one of the largest social media platforms for sharing music, its statistics indicate that bots are also used on their platform to promote songs, which influences the popularity and also leading to a wider distribution. According to the most recently reported period is between October 2018 and March 2019, Facebook said it removed 3.39 billion fake accounts. According to a report published by HypeAuditor.com, it is found that around 46.24 per cent of micro-influencers in Malaysia have been experiencing growth anomalies. It is seen that some users have been buying followers or have been followed by bots, fake or stolen accounts just to increase their popularity. In total, there were around 11 million Instagram users in Malaysia as of January 2020. It does not come as a surprise that chatbots and the spread of fake news by social bots are also used in the crisis triggered by the coronavirus in spring 2020. According to the researchers of Carnegie Mellon University, nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots. Researchers identified more than 100 false narratives about COVID-19 that are proliferating on Twitter by accounts controlled by Twitter bots. Twitter says its automated systems have “challenged” 1.5 million Twitter bot accounts that were targeting discussions about COVID-19 with malicious or market manipulation.
Troll and bot accounts are like everywhere some are working for betterment while some just follow the path to how to propagate their false agendas. We should just stop feeding the trolls and stop forwarding the fake news. We simply forward any message, news, post in the heat of the moment and later understand it was all fake. Try to become active bystanders. As we all are part of the online environment it’s our time to be more responsible.