Carnegie Mellon researchers have found that nearly half of all Twitter accounts that are urging America to reopen are bots. Researchers have also found that 82% of the top 50 influential retweeters surrounding the COVID-19 discussion are bots, meaning that these bots aren't just beep-booping into the void. People are listening.
It's the rare case where automation is actually trying to get people back to work, but don't think this directive comes from the goodhearted nature of the bots' souls. Said CMU Professor Kathleen Carley, "because it [The Pandemic] is global, it's being used by various countries and interest groups as an opportunity to meet political agendas," which got us thinking, maybe it's not just Russia who's behind all of the this.
Carley went on to say, "we do know that it looks like it's a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that," which again could further support the theory that multiple governments are dedicating money and time to keep trolling us on Twitter for months on end. It's like we could be facing a Legion of Doom, but instead of Sinestro and Gorilla Grodd beating the snot out of Batman, it's China and Russia and, who knows, Finland maybe, writing messages about how we need to get back to the beach.
It's a fascinating, albeit terrifying thought that multiple countries could be creating a coordinated effort to sow dissent online and have us spread the virus. Still, it's probably just as likely that America is like a pinata, and taking the occasional swing at it is an international pastime. Or maybe Russia is like the quiet kid at a birthday party who has had his first taste of candy and is now wailing on the pinata, on their own, in a frothing, sugar-crazed rage. Whatever the case, Twitter has now made it so that false tweets about the Coronavirus are labeled as misleading, disputed, or unverified. That will probably be enough to stop them, right? (Spoiler: No.)
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