Being vulnerable while trying to give people the benefit of the doubt, can be a wonderful way to approach life. Human connections are important and creating trustworthy bonds helps us grow and develop.

However, everything has a limit.

Even though we would love to live in a world of sunshine and rainbows, where every person’s heart is made of good intentions, that simply isn’t the case. Reality shows that our society, unfortunately, does include fake, evil and rather questionable characters, from whom we should always keep our guards up.

You might never know who you’re talking to unless their true colors are revealed in certain situations. And this shielding mechanism also includes the vast digital world.

Specifically while dealing with bots.

Twitter is at its peak

Whether we use it to procrastinate, express our opinions on different matters, or befriend online pals. No denying that the social media platform is flourishing with no intention of slowing down any time soon.

Even the explore page on Instagram is being bombarded with screenshots of funny tweets. Here’s just a taste of them:

But what are Twitter bots and how do they threaten us?

They are software programs that send out automated posts on Twitter, by controlling accounts in it via the Twitter API.

Bots in their core are type of programs trying to accomplish some preset goal. They exist in benign or malign forms, depending on the purpose of their intentions.

Even though spamming accounts can be the pivotal of annoyance, the more worrisome ones are those who try to pass as human and coordinate public discussion.

In most cases, influence bots can get popularity by liking and retweeting each other or simply through the use of popular hashtags. Unfortunately, they do get a moment of fame, mostly because people aren’t looking too closely while scrolling through their feed.

Is there a way to detect them?

Despite being irritating with their activity, most of them are easily distinguishable, due to their lack of conversational skills.

Dialogue is simple when the designer can predict what the bot will need to talk about. In that case, the rules are most probably as following:

  1. Interpret what you said.
  2. Figure out what information to respond with.
  3. Use simple rules to convert that information into a sentence.

However, for designers to script the conversations quite thoroughly still remains unattainable, especially when they don’t know the topic of the chat.

What tricks do they use?

Some change the subject whenever they don’t know what to say; Others ask questions to avoid saying anything meaningful at all.

Another sneaky trick is when the human takes over the bot in dire situations, in order to maintain the illusion that they were there the entire time.

Stay aware

If you sport a bot on twitter thanks to the acquired knowledge on how they behave, try asking it a simple question.

E.g: Is an insect bigger than a whale?

Most probably it won’t answer intelligently. And if it does, you can assume that the human has taken over.

In whatever environment you spend your time, whether it is digital or not, be cautious with the information you’re absorbing.