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Trump Twitter bots, numbering in millions, could be used for evil (STA BREAKING NEWS and ARCHIVES)

by Theresa @, Sunday, June 11, 2017, 06:39 @ Theresa

The millions of Twitter bots that President Trump counts as followers could eventually be "weaponized" to spread fake and misleading news stories that favor the beleaguered White House or distract from the scandals it faces, experts say.

Trump's "@RealDonaldTrump" account saw a big spike in followers - roughly 3 million - last weekend, most of which were newly created accounts without photos or tweets - telltale signs of Twitter bots.

And while such bot-followers can be purchased simply to create the image that one's account is influential, they can also be used for far-more nefarious purposes, including to help spread false news stories or to resurface old news stories that might ramp up enthusiasm among supporters on social media or to distract from new or growing scandals.

"A bot army can be utilized for a number of dishonest purposes, chief amongst them, misrepresenting public sentiment about whichever topics the controller has interest in," explained Brad Hayes, a fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab's Interactive Robotics Group.

"If 3 million people started tweeting in favor of or against a particular topic, would it shift public perception? What if those same 3 million people targeted every source you use for information? It's fair to say that this kind of written 'show of force' can certainly alter perceptions."

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