Bots have always played a major role in our internet ecosystem, but now more than half of internet traffic consists of bots. Consider this: not all bots are “bad”. Some bots are used to make our search experiences more accurate, but then there are “bad” bots used to spread fake news and similar. These bots make up roughly 28% of internet traffic.
Bots are programmed to perform simple internet tasks repeatedly: You can program a bot to like, share, or comment on something. Fake news perpetrators create fake stories that are often amplified by a network of bots that automatically like, share or comment on the content. Algorithms elevate content that is popular, further amplifying the effect.
The Internet Research Agency is the source of many Russian bots: It employs a large staff to spread fake news and disinformation and has been using bots to spread Russian propaganda for years. But bots don’t just spread fake news — they can create it. Distil Networks, a cybersecurity company that focuses on bot detection and mitigation, says it’s continually warning its digital publishing clients about ways bad bots are used to skew online polls.
Traffic breakdown by visitor type
Sara Fischer. How Bots and Fake Accounts Work. Axios Media Trends.