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The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Unraveling the Bot Pandemic: How Malware and Manipulation Threaten Social Media Discourse and Cybersecurity

The+increasing+unmoderated+prevalence+of+bots+on+Social+Media+Accounts+has+caused+a+massive+surge+in+misinformation+and+cyber+threats.
Aditya Narayan
The increasing unmoderated prevalence of bots on Social Media Accounts has caused a massive surge in misinformation and cyber threats.

When people are presented with controversial opinions they disagree with, it would naturally make sense to contest those ideas with facts and logic to make a reasonable discourse. 

However, some have been using bot accounts to exploit the internet and the divisions it creates to spark controversy to maximize on money. 

On Instagram Reels, several bots have been posting controversial and often unrelated statements into posts, which causes unnecessary controversy in a context where it is not appropriate. For example, many bot accounts might use phrases like “click the link in my bio” to intentionally stir up an argument or to deter from the main point of an instagram post. 

This exact situation happened to soccer star Kylian Mbappe celebrating his 25th birthday, as in the comments of his post a bot account posted “Messi needs penalty for World Cup but you no need penalty” followed by a string of nearly 21 comments underneath. 

These accounts have been popping up and are present all over social media, however recent trends have made bot accounts more active and widespread. 

When Elon Musk acquired twitter for $44 billion dollars, he added a subscription service that allowed subscribers to pay for verification. Many people took advantage of this system and made bot impersonate public figures, to cause as much confusion as possible. These bot accounts proved to not be a liability, since perpetrators couldnt be tracked when the bots were detected. 

The same thing is occuring on Youtube. Several bot accounts on the site comment on a controversial statement, followed with a link to a fictitious website. This is done by design so that advertisers can maximize the publicity on their profits while youtube struggles to shut them down. 

PV Senior Troy Tomson, who is the head of the cybersecurity  club, has experienced significant irritation with bots online. “They have become a huge problem online, especially bots that are able to spread malware and are able to deceive a lot of people at once. They take up internet traffic, slow everything down and just makes my user experience annoying,” he commented.

While many Youtubers and streamers have appealed to Youtube about the lack of moderation, Youtube has yet to have done something to have fixed the issue. 

While Youtube and Instagram have personally made a statement on trying to moderate bot accounts, it is clear that no permanent solution has been established. Since bot traffic already makes up 37.5% of internet traffic, it could lead to a shutdown of the youtube comments section entirely, since it would be filled with more bots than actual humans. 

Additionally, many young people around the world use social media to get their news sources from. However, the prevalence of bots on social media is one of the most dangerous things that can happen for news coverage, as falsifying reports on world events could prove disastrous for many countries and organizations.  

This is because bot accounts could be mistaken for public figures, meaning that any statement that a bot makes that is mistaken as an actual public figure would be taken legitimately, which has devastating consequences on outcomes of global politics and economies.

The escalating infiltration of bots in social media poses imminent threats to discourse, cybersecurity, and accurate information dissemination. In the current state of sites like youtube or X, it should be important for these companies to address the major malware that is on their sites.  

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About the Contributor
Aditya Narayan
Aditya Narayan, Copy Editor
Aditya Satya Narayan is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and serves as a copy editor for the Spartan Shield. After high school, Aditya plans to major in Aerospace Engineering at an undecided university. Besides Honors Journalism, Aditya's favorite classes are AP Physics 2 and Statistics. During his time in high school, Aditya has been one of the most committed members of the Pleasant Valley Spartan Marching Band, which led him to be selected as a co-section leader for the Clarinet section. In concert Band, Aditya was selected to be in the Iowa All-State band for clarinet in his junior year. In his free time, he enjoys watching movies, hanging out with friends, and excessively typing away on 10fastfingers.com to get to his goal of 100 WPM. 

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    Folu AdekunleFeb 25, 2024 at 9:56 pm

    Using a bot account is an innovative way to make money.

    Reply