Ghosts in the machine: Malicious bots spread COVID untruths | CIDRAP

Malicious bots, or automated software that simulates human activity on social media platforms, are the primary drivers of COVID-19 misinformation, spreading myths and seeding public health distrust exponentially faster than human users could, suggests a study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Led by University of California at San Diego (UCSD) researchers, a team analyzed a sample of roughly 300,000 posts on heavily bot-influenced public Facebook groups to measure how quickly the posts’ links were shared.

When multiple accounts share links within seconds of each other, it is a sign of bot accounts controlled by a computer program that coordinates their operations. The researchers found that the most heavily bot-influenced Facebook groups shared identical links within, on average, 4.28 seconds, versus 4.35 hours for the least-influenced groups.

Source: Ghosts in the machine: Malicious bots spread COVID untruths | CIDRAP