This study is really terrifying. A recent study ( http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/7090/5653 ) by scientists led by Alessandro Bessi and Emilio Ferrara from the “Information Sciences Institute” at the University of Southern California showed that one day before today’s US election, 400,000 so-called “social bots” are posting on Twitter and debating with users. These “bots” are nothing more than computer programs that automatically generate responses and spread them with the help of real-looking profiles.
Even worse: these posts were re-tweeted at the same frequency as tweets from real profiles, which indicates that these “bots” are hardly perceived as such. Almost 20% of the posts about the current US election thus came from such “bots”.
Not only are these programs represented in large numbers, they are also very influential. What is really significant is when you look at the scope of contributions in “social media”. Events such as the “Arab Spring” or “Occupy Wall Street” could very well demonstrate the power of the masses organized online.
However, who programmed these bots could not be determined, but in my opinion is very trivial.