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The Rise of Social Bots

ImageAs you probably know, about 50% of all web traffic is not from humans. Robotic programs, also known as "bots" have roamed the internet since its inception. There are bots that send emails, bots that monitor forums, and bots that use pop-ups to scam you into clicking to a link.

Now social media is introducing us to a new form of bot: social bots. Well, you might not think its a big deal, you know who's real and who's not right ? Maybe not. Social bots are a lot more sophisticated than you might think. The social bots you see on Twitter for example have built in databases of current events and can recognize language. They then use that language to form sentences that are relevant to current topics. And, they sleep at night. That's right, these bots are programmed to turn off and turn on at certain hours, so they appear more realistic. Touche bot programmers, touche.

So, where are these bots found? Pretty much everywhere. Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, FourSquare, but their favorite place to hang out is on dating sites. Some bots are actually super popular on social media sites like Twitter where it's actually not that uncommon that its revealed a bot has a higher ranking on websites like Klout (social media popularity ranking website) than actual celebrities. Some observers estimate that about 50% of the average Twitter users followers are actually bots.

This is actually a more serious matter than it sounds. Marketers are using bots to get people to buy things. Politicians employ bots to spread their message. Real humans are discovering bots that masquerade as them. It all equals a social media world where we can't trust any information and it seeps into the real world.

So don't fall for the bots and their tricks and try to keep it real.

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