Artificial intelligence can provide optimization to almost every industry it is applied to — from automotive, bioscience, education, healthcare to climate and environment. AI bots are normally used to automate certain tasks, reducing error and improving efficiency without negating the need for a human presence. In fact, it is nearly impossible to envision an environment where AI could thrive without the guidance of qualified individuals who understand the technology and its appropriate usage.
Internet bots are a misunderstood example of this technology. Internet bots at their essence are simply automated computer platforms, yet they are most frequently encountered as malicious internet presences that seek to spread misinformation, viruses, and make it more difficult to discern human from non-human presences on the internet. If weaponized for this purpose, internet bots can make navigating the internet generally unenjoyable, and perhaps even endangering their victims.
Amber Heard vs Johnny Depp Trial
A most recent example of Internet bots interference on a large scale was exhibited during the trial between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. Bot Sentinel, an internet research firm, found that hundreds of fake accounts were created for the purpose of tweeting negative things about Heard. The results from the study published by this group stated that as many as 627 fake accounts were created for this sole purpose, and over 3,000 internet bot accounts in total were tweeting hashtags intended to spam the timeline.
These accounts used various methods to manipulate and deceive the algorithm, including intentionally replacing letters in tweets: for example, tweeting #AmberHeardLsAnAbuser with an ‘L’ as opposed to an ‘I.’ Additionally, it was shown in the report that women who tweeted in support of Amber Heard were harassed by these accounts. In a case of escalated severity, a women who had tweeted in support of Amber Heard was harassed by an account using the image of her deceased child, later resulting in the account exposing sensitive information on the other family members involved.
The accounts and individuals responsible for this cyber attack violated many of the platform’s policies, but Bot Sentinel believes that Twitter did not do nearly enough to mitigate the platform’s abuse at the time, and still does not take the correct actions to make the platform safer for users.
The firm has suggested that Twitter improves its reporting system to be more efficient, and take efforts to encourage users to utilize this system of reporting abusive content.
Considering that internet bots malignancy is not only harmful on an individual basis, but threatens the integrity of internet usage as a whole, the need for actionable frameworks and individuals willing to oversee their implementation is vital. Cyber interference can be used to discredit the many benefits that AI has already demonstrated, as well as its promising future as the technology develops further. It is imperative to view this issue from a multitude of angles and consider how to continue to strengthen this technology against abuse.