Gareth Wilson: Helping Make Government Work with Law Bots and Civic Hacking. “Angelina Bethoney created a bot that tweets legislation being worked on in Massachusetts. But she didn’t stop there. She made it a remixable template on Glitch, and the response she got when she shared the project was amazing!” At this writing similar bots have been made for 19 states.
Slate: Regulating Bots on Social Media Is Easier Said Than Done. “Both Congress and California are currently considering legislation that would require social media bots to disclose the fact that they’re automated. These bills are designed to respond to serious, well-founded concerns about the use of social media bots to spread misinformation and sow discord online, most infamously during the 2016 election season. It’s a well-intentioned idea, but the proposals face a common challenge in the regulation of new technology: defining the technology itself. While perhaps not the most exciting part of any legislation, the definitions section is critical—it tells us who will be subject to the requirements and prohibitions that follow. While both the federal and state bills have definitions sections, neither tells us precisely what they mean by ‘bot.'”
TechCrunch: Duo Security researchers’ Twitter ‘bot or not’ study unearths crypto botnet. “A team of researchers at Duo Security has unearthed a sophisticated botnet operating on Twitter — and being used to spread a cryptocurrency scam. The botnet was discovered during the course of a wider research project to create and publish a methodology for identifying Twitter account automation — to help support further research into bots and how they operate.”
EurekAlert: Vaping draws strong support — from bots . “Social media accounts run by internet robots may be driving much of the discussion around the health threats posed by e-cigarettes, according to a study led by San Diego State University researchers, who also found most of the automated messages were positive toward vaping.”
Washington Post: The strange birth, death and rebirth of a Russian troll account called “AllForUSA”. “An Indiana man named Jesse D. Allen created a website in 2005 with the title AllForUSA.com, apparently to pursue some business interests, but he soon abandoned the site. A decade later, at the age of 80, Allen died. But AllForUSA was just getting started.”
WRAL: Crackdown on ‘bots’ sweeps up people who tweet often. “Nina Tomasieski logs on to Twitter before the sun rises. Seated at her dining room table with a nearby TV constantly tuned to Fox News, the 70-year-old grandmother spends up to 14 hours a day tweeting the praises of President Trump and his political allies, particularly those on the ballot this fall, and deriding their opponents…. While her goal is simply to advance the agenda of a president she adores, she and her friends have been swept up in an expanded effort by Twitter and other social media companies to crack down on nefarious tactics used to meddle in the 2016 election.”
Mother Jones: How to Spot a Russian Bot. “Various experts have offered guides to spotting Twitter bots, though the specifics can get pretty obscure and technical. We’ve culled the below from some of the best online guides and expert advice—with the caveat that malicious actors continue to grow more sophisticated and none of these indicators is surefire.” This is a much meatier article than the usual “how to spot a bot” offerings.