Ralph Brinkhaus, the Chairman of the Union faction in the Bundestag, has discovered Social Bots – at least as a headline-prone topic. Social Bots are programs that are active on social networks and automated or semi-automated publish content, share, like, or comment. They act more or less human. Brink house fears that they could manipulate in the super election year of 2019, the public opinion. Therefore, he calls for a labeling requirement for Bots.

more specifically: Facebook, Twitter, and other platform operators should be required to highlight Bots and their messages as such. Or you don’t want to disable the corresponding accounts, if the programmer can make themselves knows that there is Bots. Support brinkhaus of power politicians of the SPD and the Greens, as well as from the Federal Council.

No evidence for the influence of Bots

Since the beginning of 2017, the topic comes up from time to time, only to disappear again into the woodwork. Now it is again so far. As an electrical Sow to the Social is driven Bot through the village, since the company bots will have found the watch that such programs were in the debate to the UN-migration Pact exceptionally active.

But first, simply to Demonstrate the influence of Bots. The need to know the members since 2017, when a Committee of 20 experts to respondents and the office for technology published assessment of the Bundestag’s a short, easy-to-understand paper.

Although it is undisputed that Bots can fuel an online debate, by acting, for example, between an inter and a certain attitude to a subject, such as the numerically predominant attitude. But whether the change of the political formation of human users, is not yet proven.

The computer scientists Florian Gallwitz summarizes it concisely: “If you could influence people only by the high-frequency Firing of messages in the infinite Vastness of the Internet, we would have nipped all of Viagra.”

Second, the platform operator to do for a long time, what matters to the members: you can lock or delete Accounts that are not what they pretend to be you. Alone, Facebook has removed in the first quarter of 2018, more than a quarter of a billion Fake Accounts.

Therefore, government-supported players from Russia and Iran have shifted their Profiles manually, and in the long term. You evidently assume that a few well-connected and long undiscovered Accounts can provide more interactions than thousands of blunt and fast entlarvter programs.

In the kit of the information war more dangerous tools

Thirdly, insert the labelling requirement would be to foresee a bureaucratic Monster: How quickly will the platform operator should have a Bot on the basis of what evidence? Who checks the from the outside, by what means?

And what would be gained by society if a well-made Bot is only replaced after four weeks of observation, as such, strikes and the blocking or marking, immediately a new one?

It is understandable that politicians are concerned about the now well-known Attempts by government to influence-based actors, elections, and all the companies in social media. But in the Toolkit of the modern information war, all other tools are still stuck:

Political institutions to be hacked with the aim to publish incriminating Material. State-sponsored propaganda channels to play on all social media. With “dark ads” are to be made to certain groups of voters demo. The social media is largely unregulated political advertising is used for covert disinformation campaigns.

Social Bots are, however, according to current knowledge, a negligible stand, casual phenomenon.

Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.