Unlimited Fines for Using Bots – Don’t Use Bots for your Business



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Airing date: 03/14/2017

Unlimited Fines for Using Bots – Don’t Use Bots for your Business


Craig Peterson: Hi, Craig Peterson here. We’re gonna do a little bit of a TechSanity check on bots. Yeah there are a lot of bots out there. We’re not just talking about the robots that you might be imagining. When you are trying to contact someone, many times you’re speaking to a bot, particularly if you’re on Facebook or maybe on Twitter. And also, another thing that’s been happening a lot lately, is there are bots out there that are fake people. Although they didn’t get the technology quite right, they did cover this topic a little bit on the Good Fight, which is a TV show kind of following The Good Wife a little bit later on. So, bots are in our lives and what does it mean to you? What does it mean to you as a business person? And, by the way, as they are getting more popular, they’re also decreasing in popularity in some sectors in the business sectors. We’ll explain why and why you may not want to use a bot for your business.


Alright. We’re gonna talk a little bit about bots today. And what they mean to us as society and as a whole? There’s a new study that just came out talking about bots and bots are used quite commonly over on our favorite website, right? On Twitter, and many people follow me on Twitter that listen to the podcast. And, you know, I use some bots to a degree. If someone goes ahead and says something about me, I have a bot that sends a message to me on Slack so that I know I was mentioned. That I can go in and do something about it and I use a, not a bot really, but I use some automated systems that help me with finding topics and things on Twitter. But they don’t automatically respond and that’s what we’re talking about right now here. That basically the types of systems where you say something, it responds. Many people may kind of think of this as artificial intelligence but it’s not. It’s called a bot. They’ve been around for a very, very long time. I remember in high-school that was one of my dreams back in the seventies, of coming up with some sort of a talk system, that’s what they call it the back then, now they should call it a bot, but the people could interact with, and get answers to things. And we have them around us all the time. We can pull up her phone right now and we can ask Siri a question. We can ask almost anything.

So those are the basic kinds of bots. Think about Siri just coz it’s kind of a bottom line there. Well, the types of bots that are on Twitter look for things. They kind of do research. They try and find topics and they go ahead and tweet automatically. They do all kinds of stuff. And this particular study that was conducted by the University of Southern California and Indiana University looked at more than a thousand different features over on Twitter, to try to identify bot accounts on the site. And it looked at 6 different categories and what they came up with is an estimate that between 9 and 15% of Twitter’s active monthly users are not actually people. They’re actually bots. Isn’t that something? So they’re computers that are looking for subjects and sharing it out online. Now, we saw in The Good Fight a bot that was looking for things on cooking and canning particularly, and was putting information out there to harass someone. And that can certainly be done as well, Although parts of that particular premise where the bot would automatically move itself around if you tried to shut it down you couldn’t, etcetera, etcetera, just really were unrealistic. That’s not the sort of thing you expect in a typical little Twitter bot.

But when you’re talking about some 10, 15% of Twitter’s users being bots. And when you’re looking at about three hundred and twenty million active users every month on Twitter, that means there somewhere between 30 and 50 million bots out there. So when you looking at those bots and they’re not real human interactions. They’re just trying to get responses out of people. Is that legit? Is that a legitimate form of marketing coz that’s what most of these are for is marketing. And when people are looking at Twitter, they’re saying well how many users are following you on Twitter? How many followers do you have? Same thing over on Facebook. And you have to ask yourself the question, what really matters? Is what matters someone who was going to do business with you? Or is what matters just having those, you know, 5,000, 50,000, 100,000 followers? Now I can say that you can get a little bit of traction from someone going to Twitter’s site and seeing that you have two thousand followers and say oh wow this is some social proof. Some social evidence of this person’s importance. People want to follow them and that’s where I am. I’m about 2,000 followers. But I’m pretty careful not to follow robots. Sometimes you can’t really tell these little bots. And I’m also pretty careful that if one of them does follow me, I go ahead and just plain old ignore them. I don’t engage with them.

So why? Why does that matter? Well now there’s more and more programs out there that represent your social credit if you will. Kred is one of them. Klout is another one. And they take into account how many times you’re mentioned. How interactive you are with other people and they look at all your different accounts and they come up with the concept of what your cred is. Your social cred. They are removing cred points from you if you are interacting with bots. And they’ve kind of figured out which ones are bots. Sometimes it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s not. So you definitely don’t want to interact with bots. No question about that.

Well there’s other types of bots out there that businesses are using to have a little dialogue. So someone tries to report a problem, the bot goes ahead and says so please provide your name, your phone number. Could you please describe the problem in more detail, etcetera. I have a couple of bots I use on Slack that every day… what did you do yesterday? What are you doing today? What’s on your schedule? Is there anything stopping you from completing your work? Basic questions and that’s a bot. Just asking some questions. Gathering some data and then it sends it to me so I know every day what people are doing, what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Don’t use bots if your business is kind of the bottom line unless it’s just the basic stuff trying to get some information from someone. Now there’s another type of bot out there that has become prevalent of that the UK is actually passed a law against. And this it is a type of bots that’s used by ticket scalpers. They have policies and most of these online ticketing sites, that you can only buy so many tickets at once. And they do that so that you can’t have a scalper going online buying the ticket for a hundred bucks and selling it for 250 bucks later on. So the scalpers had figured out all we have to do is create a bot that runs on multiple machines, multiple locations around the country, around the world. And when the tickets go on sale we will slam all at once the second the tickets are available and buy as many tickets as we can. So they take those tickets then resell them on scalping sites to make a whole bunch of money. Well now ticket scalpers who are using these bots to do the bulk buys of tickets in the UK are going to be subject to what’s being called unlimited fines. So they talk about one particular site here, Viagogo I guess. Viagogo is accused of moral repugnance after it was found reselling tickets to a cancer charity concert for up to $6,100, and making all kinds of money off of it that the charity wanted. So it’s going to be interesting when they have these fines were they can just fine people almost unlimited amounts of money for using a bot to scalp tickets. The Broadway musical Hamilton announced new measures to prevent resale when the show’s opening in London this year. Theater goers are going to have to swipe the bank card was used to purchase the ticket in order to gain access to the show. Obviously that’s going to be a bit of a problem. What happens if you buy a few tickets for your friends or you have a business outing etcetera.

You know it’s interesting. But using these bots is really causing problems. I think we have to be very careful. I’ve got links to a couple of these articles here in the show notes. I’ve been talking a lot on my various radio and television appearances about what is happening out there with the CIA, with this information leak so you can follow those. You can find those as well in my podcast feed http://CraigPeterson.com/iTunes. Thanks for being with us today. We’ll be back of course tomorrow. Bye-bye.

Show Notes:

These are not your typical robots. When you are trying to contact someone, many times you’re speaking to a bot, particularly if you’re on Facebook or maybe on Twitter. This can be both a great way to interact with your customers via social media channel, but if not used properly can be a deal breaker.

If there are fake news, then there’s definitely fake accounts. Majority of these “bots” are fake accounts, that are most of the time used to increase followers on social media. There are “bots” being used to increase productivity and others are just there to simply breach security.

Stay safe, and stay tuned on the daily TechSanity Check!

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