Bots are beginning to appear everywhere. Starting from social media spambots, to popular chatbots that companies like CNN and Washington Post use, all the way to dangerous bots used for DDoS attacks. Bots are responsible for 52% of the total web traffic, according to a report by the security firm Imperva. Even though bots overwhelm the Internet, we are only just beginning to see the Bot Age taking shape.
Many big companies like H&M and Sephora have adopted chatbots for the sake of improving customer service. On the other hand, you can find a good many social bots on Twitter and Instagram. Some of them are following and liking your pictures. These ones can make someone very popular but can also do much harm to people, as they can spread misinformation and manipulation.
How Chatbots Will Reshape Google Search?
Have you ever searched for something on Google and, no matter how many key words you use, you just cannot find exactly what you are looking for? You probably wished Google were a real person so that you could tell him just what you are searching. Chatbots are becoming our best friend in terms of fast and efficiently finding what we are looking for.
Bots will ask you for specific information that will allow them to answer hard questions:
- Medical diagnosis
- Professional complications
- Fashion suggestions
Chatbots might potentially change information searching, forever. Google and Yahoo offer image searching via their search engines. There are chatbots like ImageSearch Bot that allows inputting the image right from your mobile device. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are changing the way people search for information in a big way. Instead of having to type in keywords on a computer, all you need to do is speak to their software, as you would do to a personal assistant. A bot can also be a friend. In China, there is a bot called Xiaoice (built by Microsoft) and over 40 million people talk to it on a regular basis, as they would do to a human friend.
Smart chatbots get smarter the more you use them. They learn through chats, your browsing habits, purchases, interests and more. For example, after ordering something from Domino’s chatbot the information you just provided can make the search results more personalized and the next time you order pizza the bot will remember your preference and make your search simpler, quicker and easier.
Expect bots to dominate these fields and uses:
- Customer service
- Local services
- Scalable personalized content
- Inherently social
- One-time use cases
Only 1,000 of the one million apps in the iOS App Store or Android’s Google Play Store have 50,000 or more users. That’s only one-tenth of 1% of all apps. And although many people have lots of apps on their smartphones, Quantcast reports that as many as 50% of people who download an app only use it once! - Jillian D’Onfro, Business Insider.
Due to high friction and low discoverability, 99% of apps and their technology will never see the light of day. What a massive waste!
Why use social bots?
Think about the fishy Instagram profiles that follow you. Some of them look unreliable at the beginning with the ability to like five of your pictures in 1 second and follow you at the same time. Many Instagram followers and Twitter users are bots that are sometimes hard to spot.
A research by the University of Southern California and Indiana University finds out that between 9% - 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots. Social bots are accounts controlled by software, algorithmically generating content and establishing interactions. The increase in social bots will make it hard for Facebook and Twitter to regulate the problem of fake news, misinformation and hate speech.
Social Bots Risks
Are social bots the only way to gain online popularity? Most likely, the answer is no. It is better to be authentic. On the other hand, many Instagram users appear to have many people following them but the like to follower ratio on their pictures do not seem to match. For example, particular users may have 100k followers but only receive about 100 likes on their pictures. That is how you can tell that most of their followers are probably bots.
Social bots stand together. An army of social bots is well able to make a difference, influence political discussions in social media and actually pose a threat to the way a normal society goes. Bots could be convenient for promotion and can easily influence the trending topics on social media, which can be the basis for political and economic decisions. Misleading information could have a big role in changing the course of elections.
On the Brighter Side
Bots are really advantageous when it comes to entertainment or completion of repetitive tasks. Twitter bots warn against earthquakes in earthquake-prone areas. Bots help build awareness about social justice activities and organizations. Social bots can be a fun tool to gain popularity and grow your business while increasing engagement.
In reality, bots are already starting to appear everywhere on the Internet and can benefit our lives in many ways. Nonetheless, we should be aware of harmful bots that can actually do some damage. So next time when somebody you do not know DM’s you, be careful because he could possibly be a bot…
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