Bot armies are taking over Twitter. But they’re not necessarily trying to advance a point of view, according to Phil Howard, a bot researcher. They’re aiming to sow chaos and make dialogue impossible. At the extreme, the goal is to destabilize our very sense of reality.
“Their strategy is to plant multiple conflicting stories that just confuse everybody," Howard says. "If they can successfully get out four different explanations for some trend, then they've confused everybody, and they're able to own the agenda.”
This week, why someone would sic a bot army on Manoush. And what her bot brigade can teach us about how bots are shaping democracy, from the 2016 election to Brexit to the recent French election.
You can check if a Twitter account following you is real or fake, with Bot or Not, an aptly-named tool from Indiana University's Truthy project.