2016 was a hotly contested election year, but beyond the usual political mudslinging the battle for the White House was the center of perhaps the largest propaganda campaign ever conducted. By Facebook's own estimates, disinformation or inflammatory material related the to election reached as many as 150 million users on its site alone.
Similar material filtered through social media sites like Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter. One Twitter account, @Jenn_Abrams, received national media coverage several times before it was revealed to be an automated bot, and the account was suspended.
In an age where bots have become sophisticated enough to fool seasoned journalists how are regular users of social media meant to recognize and avoid them?
Well, here are some helpful tips and tricks courtesy of Mashable.
Bots are everywhere, so keep an eye out.
Researchers from the University of Southern California and Indiana University estimated that between 9-15% of all Twitter accounts were actually bots, around 30 million total.
Some bots complete automated tasks such as posting stories, but others are designed to support political candidates or purposely provoke other users.
"While the goals of their creators may vary, there are telltale signs that many bots share."