Rise of the Peñabots

From Luis Daniel, Points (Data & Society), “Rise of the Peñabots“:

“…Since then, the term Peñabot has evolved to have a variety of meanings. They are either automated software that requires no human intervention, low-wage workers paid by the government to operate multiple social media accounts (think Chinese 50 Cent Party), or even genuine supporters who are criticized for their mindless support of Peña Nieto (think Limbots or Obamabots). These first two applications of the term “bot” present a lot of ethical questions over the use of bots by the government.”

Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics:

“Political bots are manipulating public opinion over major social networking applications. This project enables a new team of social and information scientists to investigate the impact of automated scripts, commonly called bots, on social media. We study both the bot scripts and the people making such bots, and then work with computer scientists to improve the way we catch and stop such bots. Experience suggests that political bots are most likely to appear during an international crisis, and are usually designed to promote the interests of a government in trouble. Political actors have used bots to manipulate conversations, demobilize opposition, and generate false support on popular sites like Twitter and Facebook from the U.S. as well as Sina Weibo from China.”

Automated bots flood the campaign, swaying and even fooling voters

Tim Johnson for McClatchy (November 4, 2016): “A stream of recent sneaky tweets and social media posts tell people they can “vote from home” by simply sending a text message, a devious tactic to suppress votes.

The U.S. election is not “American Idol,” and voters cannot – repeat CANNOT! – cast ballots by texting from their cellphones. Twitter says it is taking the tweets down.

The last-ditch appeals underscore a broader issue of concern in an especially contentious political year: the increasing usage of robotic networks, or botnets, to flood the internet in an attempt to influence the election, squelch public debate, spread lies and manipulate voters….”