Bots – The Green Amsterdammer

In his class’s application pool, the flow of messages continued throughout the day, sometimes well into the night. S. said that her twelve-year-old son didn’t want to go to sleep anymore, he was so afraid of missing something. And he probably really wanted to show his classmates that he was up late, really hard. So what do you do as a mother in such a case? S. promised her son that she would keep an eye on the app group and, when necessary, he would reply on her behalf with a funny comment, emoji or something. At least she had a good night’s sleep.

What a fantastic image! Because S. of course is not the only one who came up with this, other parents in that class are doing the same thing, I can see it very clearly: while the children sleep peacefully, their parents are busy at night posting memes and movies. and anything else you think 12-year-olds would enjoy. They do it for love, for protection, they are crazy.

They are a metaphor, they almost have to be. S. told me this story a while ago, but he came back to me when I read that Elon Musk bought his Twitter account on hold has put. The reason, she says, is that she wants to see evidence that less than five percent of Twitter users are bots, as the board claims. A bot simulates human interaction, on websites like bol.com they answer your questions, on Google they search the Internet for answers, and on social media they post auto-generated messages about stock prices, breaking news or #JusticeForJohnny. In addition, they also spread a lot of fake news, propaganda, and conspiracy theories.

According to a study by security firm Barracuda, two-thirds of all Internet traffic now consists of bot activity. So five percent seems low for Twitter, which Musk suspects is more, much more. And since then I can see it very clearly again: while human users sleep soundly, millions of bots tweet and retweet that it’s a delight, create #fuzz, stoke that fuss some more, and when they wake up, real users wonder what the heck . happened.

Now Twitter is certainly not the biggest social platform, Facebook and TikTok have a lot more users, but it is probably the most influential medium. Especially since so many journalists and politicians are listening to it. What’s brewing on Twitter is immediately picked up by ad pundits and talk show editors. So afraid that they are there to miss something. But what if all this time they did not hear the voice of the people, but that of the bots?

Elon Musk responded with a poop emoji. Is he secretly a bot himself?

This is how it goes: something is devised, a technological tool at hand for example, with the roaring promise of more contact, more connection and that now everyone can have their voice heard, and a few seconds later we are trapped in that technology, we know. It is no longer who we talk to, what is real and what is not, and the conversation is determined outside of us.

a bit like in the movie I robot, with Will Smith. In it, the future is a technological utopia where subordinate robots have taken over all the tedious work. Their job is to protect the man, they have to make his life easier. Only in the end are the robots forced to take over, as humans must protect themselves first and foremost against themselves and all the stupid decisions they make.

In his own medium, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal explained in detail why it is so difficult to fight spam and bots (bots constantly change their tactics; they often collaborate with people) and how the company got to that percentage of five percent (screening thousands of accounts internally; Twitter already blocks half a million accounts a day that way). Elon Musk responded with a poop emoji. Is he secretly a bot himself?

Musk likely wants him to lower the price of his Twitter purchase, analysts say. Those bots in any case will not bother him much, since he himself has benefited a lot. In it Los Angeles Times He recently described how, since 2013, bots have contributed significantly to the narrative of Tesla as a business empire that dominates the world and saves the planet, creating a stock market value for the company that is by no means financially justifiable. Although Tesla faced bankruptcy several times and the company exists thanks to subsidies and tax breaks, such as the image of CEO Musk, the visionary and Outside the Boxthinker but repeated quite often, the stock sells itself. As a result, Musk, as the world’s richest man, can now easily buy back Twitter.

But maybe not everything is true. Maybe my friend S. is the only one managing her kid’s phone at night, maybe there are only a handful of bots active on Twitter, and maybe you shouldn’t want to compare parents and bots at all. Maybe my imagination just got the best of me and everyone can go to sleep in peace.

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