Apr 10, 2018
BOTS HAVE BECOME a great scourge of the internet. Recently, they’ve flooded government comment systems with fake activism, distorted the national discourse on guns, and launched malicious attacks against the Justice Department. And a new study suggests they’re behind the majority of links shared on Twitter, too.
A Pew Research report released Monday finds that a whole two-thirds of links to popular sites shared on Twitter come from automated accounts. But these aren’t just those malicious Russian bots posing as the uncannily angry and active boy next door. They also include legitimate accounts belonging to organizations that schedule tweets through some kind of automated service. What’s more, the study finds, the majority of these accounts are not as politically polarized as headlines might make them out to be, nor do they primarily link to hyper-partisan websites. In fact, some of the websites receiving the largest share of links from bots are mainstream business outlets. Oh, and porn.