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Misinformation and More

Learn about misinformation, disinformation, malinformation, fake news, propaganda, and more.

Social Media Misinformation Agents: Bots, Sockpuppets, and Trolls

Keep an eye out. Some of the people you are interacting with online in social media sites may not be real human beings, or they may be real people with agendas attempting to influence the discussion. 

There are three kinds of accounts to watch for:

Bots - Accounts controlled by computer programs that mimic people

Sockpuppets - Accounts controlled by people

Trolls - Accounts controlled by people created to antagonize other people and behave rudely.

In addition, any one of these accounts (and sometimes real people) will behave in antagonistic ways to try to make you angry.  Remember to stay calm and think before you share posts.

Image: By Rolando Luis Martín - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90526931

What is a bot?

Bots are social media accounts that are robots, or bots for short.  They are programmed to respond and spread information in a way that mimics human users. They may seem like people, but they are not.

Source: How is Fake News Spread? Bots, People like You, Trolls, and Microtargeting. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cits.ucsb.edu/fake-news/spread

Sock puppets

Sock puppet social media accounts are fake accounts controlled by real people. They can be used as a form of marketing.

Trolls

Trolls are human beings who have multiple social media accounts on various sites. Their main purpose is to argue, post inflammatory content, and otherwise behave "badly" in order to undermine credibility and influence opinion.

Source: How is Fake News Spread? Bots, People like You, Trolls, and Microtargeting. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.cits.ucsb.edu/fake-news/spread

Trolling Behaviors

Trolls behave rudely to anger, upset, and annoy other people. It can be hard to keep your cool, but it's important to avoid "feeding" trolls by reacting to their bad behavior.