Chatbots mess up the facts of life

The purpose of the chatbots was to rant, confuse people or muddy discussions on Twitter in the days before the election, an Oxford University report found.

Source: Automated Pro-Trump Bots Overwhelmed Pro-Clinton Messages, Researchers Say – The New York Times

And it begins:

SAN FRANCISCO — An automated army of pro-Donald J. Trump chatbots overwhelmed similar programs supporting Hillary Clinton five to one in the days leading up to the presidential election, according to a report published Thursday by researchers at Oxford University.

The chatbots — basic software programs with a bit of artificial intelligence and rudimentary communication skills — would send messages on Twitter based on a topic, usually defined on the social network by a word preceded by a hashtag symbol, like #Clinton.

Their purpose: to rant, confuse people on facts, or simply muddy discussions, said Philip N. Howard, a sociologist at the Oxford Internet Institute and one of the authors of the report. If you were looking for a real debate of the issues, you weren’t going to find it with a chatbot.

“They’re yelling fools,” Dr. Howard said. “And a lot of what they pass around is false news.”

My bolding.

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