Thu, 2 July 2020
On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on disinformation, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Darius Kazemi, an internet artist and bot-maker extraordinaire. Recently, there have been a lot of ominous headlines about bots—including an NPR article stating that nearly 50 percent of all Twitter commentary about the pandemic has been driven by bots rather than human users. That sounds bad—but Darius thinks that we shouldn’t be so worried about bots. In fact, he argues, a great deal of reporting and research on bots is often wrong and actually causes harm by drumming up needless worry and limiting online conversations. So, what is a bot, anyway? Do they unfairly take the blame for the state of things online? And if weeding out bot activity isn’t a simple way to cultivate healthier online spaces, what other options are there for building a less unpleasant internet?