As to now, I had always thought that twitter bots were the creation of black hat hackers hacking into Twitter. Sadly, the opposite is the case. Once again, it’s corporations gobbling up democracy fro profit.
We are already familiar with political corporations (so-called “parties” like the GOP and Dems) undermining democracy to make wealth from graft in partnership with other corporations and their robber billionaire owners. We have become familiar with media corporations undermining democracy by blocking, misreporting, or even inventing news and spreading propaganda to please their investors, bosses, and advertisers. Some of us even know about manufacturers of voting machines designing them for doctoring the election results. Lately, we have become aware of social media corporations stepping onto the stage. Facebook is currently under investigation in connection with Cambridge Analytica, and Twitter has been connected to narrative-meddling in many countries, including our own, through twitter bots. Since social media have also presented an opportunity for democracy by enabling “common” people like you and me to share smart-phone-taped events, real news, intelligent analyses, great ideas – and to actually be heard(!) – it may be a good idea to take a look at the underbelly of social media run by for-profit corporations whose only goal is to make their owners as rich as possible, regardless of consequences. The universal corporate motto: when it comes to profit, anything goes. To heck with democracy, people, the country, life on Earth, or humanity.
When attempts are made to influence elections in the U.S. and other countries through twitter bots, the real problem, I propose, isn’t a handful of bumbling Russians producing occasionally politically flavored clickbait for their merchant customers. The real problem is Twitter itself because of its having created the technical means and practice of twitter botting in the first place. Twitter botting has been used by various governments and political parties (or their outsourced goons) to stifle or shape the public conversation on Twitter through bots, all courtesy of Twitter rather than devious hackers!
We have had our fare share of political twitter botting domestically, and not to hurt Hillary Clinton in favor of Trump, but to hurt Bernie Sanders and true people’s voices in favor of Hillary Clinton and all other “Democratic” corporatists. The Huffpost article How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts (HuffPost) tells some of it.
According to the article, Sally Albright, a Democratic Party “communications consultant” (that’s someone who gets awfully rich by raking in the lion’s share of donations made to a political party) backed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries by smearing Bernie Sanders, and she keeps smearing him. She also secretly used an army of twitter bots to do this and to make her smears appear like public outcries over established truths — fake truths that were nothing but her creative smears made to look real by endless repetition from twitter bot fake accounts.
It shows, once again, not only that our homegrown political rigging far outweighs any foreign attempts, but also that privately-held and under-regulated corporations ruin our country. In order to create more lively messaging traffic, thus to increase its profits for its wealthy owners**, Twitter created the bot technology that was foreseeably abused for political influencing,** and Twitter is keeping it up, too.
Ahhh... you just gotta love plutocratic corporations...
Here are some salient quotes from the article:
Twitter allows users to automate their accounts, including setting up automatic retweeting and liking of other accounts. This increases activity on the platform, something Twitter obviously wants to do, and allows busy users to promote messages or businesses that they support. Presumably Twitter did not anticipate that users would simply hand their accounts over to another person or campaign to artificially spread the latter’s tweets.
The ability to swamp a debate with automated messages is a problem for political discourse around the world. Twitter is a vital platform for political debate. Automating Twitter accounts to retweet or otherwise promote specific messages thus becomes a tactic to silence political debate and squelch free speech.
Lovely, isn’t it? Back to you my friends. Let’s use Twitter, Facebook, and so forth to spread articles like this one instead of establishment fake news and propaganda, so that we – the people – can gain the upper hand in the end.
Side Note: Foreign meddling attempts in U.S. elections aren’t just Russian. In fact, all Russian meddling allegations, so far, indicate nothing big and no actual influence. On the other hand, a British company with U.S. connections (Cambridge Analytica), by current revelations, seems to completely dwarf any attempts by any Russians in matters of fixing our 2016 elections. More of this to come soon...