Social Media Is Full of Bots Spreading COVID-19 Anxiety. Don't Fall For It
Recently Facebook, Reddit, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube committed to removing coronavirus-related misinformation from their platforms.
COVID-19 is being described as the first major pandemic of the social media age. In troubling times, social media helps distribute vital knowledge to the masses. Unfortunately, this comes with myriad misinformation, much of which is spread through social media bots.
These fake accounts are common on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They have one goal: to spread fear and fake news.
The exact scale of misinformation is difficult to measure. But its global presence can be felt through snapshots of Twitter bot involvement in COVID-19-related hashtag activity.
Bot Sentinel is a website that uses machine learning to identify potential Twitter bots, using a score and rating. According to the site, on March 26 bot accounts were responsible for 828 counts of #coronavirus, 544 counts of #COVID19 and 255 counts of #Coronavirus hashtags within 24 hours.
These hashtags respectively took the 1st, 3rd and 7th positions of all top-trolled Twitter hashtags.
It’s important to note the actual number of coronavirus-related bot tweets are likely much higher, as Bot Sentinel only recognises hashtag terms (such as #coronavirus), and wouldn’t pick up on "coronavirus", "COVID19" or "Coronavirus".
How are bots created?
Bots are usually managed by automated programs called bot "campaigns", and these are controlled by human users.