According to USC’s Keck School of Medicine, fake accounts on social media do a lot more than sway political discourse. These accounts are dangerous, and can be a health risk. A social bot is classified as an automated account using AI, or artificial intelligence to promote and influence specific products and ideas. The researchers from USC placed their focus on the promotion of the notion electronic cigarettes can help individuals quit smoking from the bots. Research does not support this conclusion.
According to the study’s author, Jon-Patrick Allem, the actions of the social bots are like the movement of “vaccinations cause autism” started by Jenny McCarthy the actress. Even though the idea has been proved incorrect numerous times, the idea remained. Allem stated the stories individuals shared regarding their child becoming autistic due to a vaccination are responsible for Southern California’s outbreak of measles. As one of the Keck School of Medicine’s preventative medicine research scientists, his opinion has value. For more information, visit https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-fake-social-media-accounts-hazardous.html.
Although a social bot does not have Jenny McCarthy’s star power, what they do not have in fame, they have in determination and quantity. They were created to promote a slanted narrative 24/7. The Journal of Medical Internet Research published the study on December 20th after 2.2 million posts regarding cigarettes were analyzed. This is one of the first studies documenting the unhealthy behavior of bots. According to the researchers, an individual is twice as likely to believe promotions from bots than humans. This was proven with the idea a person can stop smoking using e-cigarettes.
Allem claims health advice is being passed by bots with no scientific proof. There has been no decision made regarding the effectiveness of e-cigarettes to quit smoking, but studies have proven the chemicals used to make vape juice are harmful. Scientists do not yet understand if the cardiovascular and respiratory systems can be damaged by vaping.
The Centers for Disease Control have name tobacco as the number one cause of diseases that can be prevented, as well as death and disability within the United States. The most common tobacco product used by teens and children are e-cigarettes. Of the adult users of e-cigarettes in 2015, eleven percent had never smoked. The researchers used data from Twitter with terms including ejuice, vaping and e-cigarette. Social bots were identified from humans by analyzing mentions and retweets, and the final filter was a BotOrNot algorithm.