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Content analysis for bots

This story has been making the rounds; I'll link to the Raw Story version because I like the headline: Revealed: Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people. Here's the key graf:

Though many questions remain about how the military would apply such technology, the reasonable fear should be perfectly clear. "Persona management software" can be used to manipulate public opinion on key information, such as news reports. An unlimited number of virtual "people" could be marshaled by only a few real individuals, empowering them to create the illusion of consensus.

You could call it a virtual flash mob, or a digital "Brooks Brothers Riot," so to speak: compelling, but not nearly as spontaneous as it appears.

Of course, to anybody who experienced the comment threads at The Obama 527 Formerly Known as Daily Kos in 2008, and who remembers that Obama campaign manager David Axelrod's day job was corporate Astroturfing, the question immediately arises whether the term "Obot" was not dehumanizing snark, but completely accurate:

Here's the sig I thought of using at Kos (2008-01-25) before the end:

* OFB PROPHLACTIC Yes, I am paid by the Hillary campaign. Yes, I hope to get a job in Hillary's administration. Yes, I am a shill. Yes, I am a hack. Yes, I am a liar. Yes, I am a racist. Yes, I am a purist. Yes, I am a troll. Yes, I am ignorant. Yes, I hate Obama. Yes, I ignore all facts that don't square with my [lying|racist|purist|shilling|hackish|trollish] preconceptions of Obama. Yes, my reading comprehension is poor. Yes, I have a hidden agenda: I hope that the Democrats lose, and to that end I support [not Obama]. Yes, I could be older than you. Yes, I think all young people are stupid. Did I mention I'm a shill and a hack? Good. Anything else?

(See also here and here.)

Looks to me, in retrospect, that what I developed for my sig is a good first cut for reverse engineering the script that Axelrod's bots were using. The language of the OFB really was that repetitious.

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Submitted by hipparchia on

and using software to do that. what a concept. from the article:

While there are certainly legitimate applications for such software, such as managing multiple "official" social media accounts from a single input,

yay, tptf [toomany personas to fail]! i can't think of a single legitimate application for humanized bots, not even, or especially, managing multiple "official" social media accounts.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

bots, live and otherwise, have infested *this* blog for years. anyone remember the one who said he was going to rape and kill me via chainsaw? i am sure that was a 22 yo republiclown staffer working for one congressional office or another.

it's called 'republican welfare' and it's how they keep their younglings "employed." $9/hr for trolling. it's easy to pay basement rent prices at that rate.