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New York Times Image 19 November 2014

 

Are You certain your “Likes” on all the social media platforms are human? Or are they robots?

 

Bots were on the rise we read some years back but a recent article in the New York Times should give all of us a ‘wake-up’ call about buying popularity.

 

First, a definition: a bot is an application that will do a task. . . an automated task without the intervention of a human. It’s a web robot. Ever asked a question of Siri on your mobile? Siri is a bot – it will ‘do’ tasks for you – multiple tasks. From here it gets a little complicated, so rather than attempt a feeble explanation, let’s go back to the ‘buying likes’ example.

 

At first, I assumed buying followers meant promoting my tourism websites to a list of ‘real’ people, people who would be interested In Windsor. And a webguy I know recommended that I buy some to push up my ‘like’ numbers. It somehow felt dishonest, so I dropped the webguy!

 

Still this article, ‘The Follower Factory’ (New York Times, 27 January 2018) is a bit of a shock.“Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform.”

 

Back in the day of 2014 thousands of these fake accounts, known as bots, were up for purchase for as little as $5. Voila, you are popular, but buyer beware: this is a giant pyramid scheme of fake friends and, hang on to your hat, all the platforms Instagram, Vine Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube Facebook are in on the game.

 

Just a few lines of computer code and your Bot is ready to retweet certain topics. . . follow a tweet or follow anyone who follows them.

 

Multiple Bots are commonly called ‘Bot Farms’. A farm is up for sale for the cost of a cup of coffee, writes Nick Bilton in Vanity Fair (2018).  If you have time, read those articles. But in the future, don’t ‘go on’ about how many followers you have – you really do want real people liking youl

 

New York Times Image. 29 November 2014

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