With all of the talk these days about Russian bots, Chinese bots, this bot, and that bot, what in the heck are these things? How is it done? Should we be afraid?
The generic definition is as follows. “A bot is a script or code used to run automated tasks on the internet.” Period. They do their jobs faster than the speed of lightning and they are reliable within a fraction of an error.
Generalist bots are programmed for nothing more than blasting out mass quantities of information. They haven’t the ability to respond. Specialist bots, of which there is a fewer number, can be programmed to reply with any number of responses, given particular words or domain language they are taught to recognize. Are you afraid or intrigued at this point?
Bots are broken down into further categories depending upon their intended use. The answer to are you afraid, or should you be, has no answer. If the intent is to be used as a legitimate marketing tool, no problem. But, if a bot has been designed and programmed with malicious intent, this is a whole other breed.
Chatbots are those pesky things that have you pushing one and screaming yes before you finally get put on hold by a company’s customer service department. Yet, we seldom hang up for fear of going to the back of the line which kinda proves their effectiveness, so whatcha’ gonna do?
We use spider bots all of the time. These are primarily search engines such as Google that crawl the internet collecting data of all types for our explicit pleasure. Ask and ye shall receive.
Scraper bots are used in business for collecting data pertinent to their expertise. Researchers of all types use these for comparing reviews with competitors, pricing information, who’s having a sale, and so forth.
Text Reading bots search for certain words or phrasing in their never-ending battle against spam. They’re also used in text translation. They’re our friends.
Transactional bots are what enables you to run up your credit card online, or pay a bill. Your preference.
Social Media bots require caution. They are programmed to identify certain types of posts and then either share them with the masses or to a more selective audience. They are intended to influence or brainwash, whoever their intended target might be. They are used for marketing products, but they are also heavily used for the wrong purposes, particularly when it comes to politics, so always check your sources.
Video bots give vivid life to video game characters and are capable of predicting player’s next moves based on their normal patterns. Scary but nothing to be afraid of.
Download bots will download apps with or without your knowledge. They’re used for updates on I-Phones, but sometimes software developers will program an app to automatically download just to exaggerate their numbers.
There are exploitation types of bots that are designed to steal your information. Generally, users are asked to click on a certain link which will immediately release a virus which in most cases leaves their private and personal information fully exposed. Just say no.
There are bots used to collect email addresses for spammers and bots for stealing passwords. But the worst type, due to current political circumstances, are the ones being used by Russia, China, Iran, in the back alleys of Nigeria, Romania, and by all those wanting to maliciously stick their rear-ends into American politics.
Some want Biden to win, such as China for obvious reasons. And some are pro-Trump. No matter their given side, they are mass propaganda machines used for the sole purposes of convincing whoever they choose to convince of whatever they decide to convince them of.
Some of it is coming from proponents of the right, but a disproportionately over-abundance of it’s coming from the cheering gallery of the left. An over-Use discernment. If it walks like a duck…you know the rest…