Besides millions of people on social media, there are also millions of bots. Bots are automated accounts that help share fake news, getting it trending, so that people think it’s more popular than it really is. There is no real person behind these accounts and their activities are usually moderated through algorithms.
In 2017, there were an estimated 23 million bots on Twitter (8.5% of all accounts), 140 million bots on Facebook (5.5% of accounts) and around 27 million bots on Instagram (8.2% of the accounts).
Clearly, bots are common. We have all probably engaged with one at some point. But how do we make sure we don’t share their fake content ever again? First, we have to identify them.
How to spot a bot?
Bots typically post at a very high rate. If an account posts hundreds of times per day, it’s probably a bot.
Bots will retweet and like other people’s posts without writing its own. They engage regularly with fake influencers (accounts that are only followed by bots) or other propaganda-based content.
Bots typically lack personal information on account.
Bots can work together in a “botnet” to get a hashtag trending or harass a person or organization. And they have a significant impact in guiding society’s conversations, concerns, and priorities.
However, it’s best if real people do the talking. Check out our resources to spot bot-promoted fake news and help end its circulation.