Who Broke The Internet?

It’s true, someone or something broke the internet, can Elon Musk Fix it?

Maybe you didn’t realize the internet is broken. Instagram was among the first to slow the damage with the blue check mark. Now Elon Musk wants to charge $8 for the blue check mark. But will that fix the internet?

Anonymity failed us.

One of the things that we learned and yet didn’t over the past 6 years is that you can’t trust the internet. Just because it’s on social media doesn’t mean it is true. It doesn’t even mean that a real human typed the post. It all started because we liked the idea of “anonymity” online. As “American’s” we are guaranteed the right to face our accuser by the constitution but we loved it when we could flame a bitchy waiter online and they wouldn’t know it was us.

Profile photos for bots – faceless

It is the very anonymity that eliminates responsibility. You can say something you didn’t really mean in the heat of the moment and not have to worry about it. It became way too easy to type in “I hope that ass get’s fired” and never worry about what happens. People started taking photos from the internet, cropping them and using them as a profile photo like the one here. This way they are anonymous because the original photo isn’t them.

What I call the “City Mentality” has destroyed our empathy for each other. I call it the city mentality because I noticed it for the first time ever in New York as a kid. People would yell and then say “It’s a big city, I’ll never see him again.” With the internet if you yell at someone using your real profile, you are easy to find. Kids have dual profiles to hide from their parents.

That same anonymity opened up the idea of “Bot Farms”.

The Bots Are In It To Win It

The first time a vendor approached me with the idea of using a bot farm to expand the reach of the CoolToys blog, I didn’t understand the value. Within weeks, a friends blog went from thousands to millions of followers thanks to his new mini bot farm. He literally had a dozen cell phones each with a unique id.

When YouTube changed the rules so you couldn’t “monetize” your videos unless you had a specific number of subscribers, it was bots to the rescue. You could go to Fiverr or UpWork and “buy” subscribers. Initially it worked. The “Bot Farmers” would take your money to help pay for the bot farm. The “Cell bots” would be a subscriber to your channel. This added links for the bots, making them appear “more real”.

Privacy Time?

With all of these bots scanning the internet for people to “like” and quotes to use, we started hiding from bots. VPN’s allowed us to appear that we were logging in from anywhere in the world. Admittedly I used a VPN to watch French TV news until we got our own channel in Los Angeles. With my VPN I can change connect points monthly. Ideally this should make it harder for someone to find my ip address. I know our security cameras have a back door. I also have a home firewall.

One of the first bot farms I saw grabbed quotes from famous women, waited a month and then reposted the quotes on social media as if the bot itself had said it. Because they were real quotes from real people originally they felt organic even though they weren’t. The newer versions scan hundreds of articles, use AI to change the grammar and build new articles. Admittedly we tried it here at BSN for a month and spent more time fixing the errors. That is were we realized there was a problem.

A bot, even good ones, don’t always recognize a contradiction. One article I read on one of the more popular financial blogs said that Exxon was a great buy and was about to crash at the same time. I read Zac Morris’s cryptic tweets and sometimes wonder if he doesn’t use bots and how many of his followers are bots.

There is the problem. Bots aren’t even publishing an opinion. That is what AI is still currently missing. It can’t say “I think Fan2Stage is a great investment because…” If it does and there is a site with a contrary opinion, it might put both opinions in the same article. To buy or not to buy, that is the question. But you read the article for the answer don’t you?

Can The Internet Be Fixed?

The biggest problem is that we are gullible. So maybe we broke the internet by responding to the fake posts. Maybe it wasn’t the bots? The world as we know it has FOMO so bad, people jump on social media opinions without any thought. People tell me all the time, Biden is a Moron, or Trump is an ass, and when I ask for specifics of what they don’t like, there is no answer. Occasionally they remember a sound bite or tweet but that is rare. We are all guilty of it.

Two things have to happen to fix this. First, we need a way to verify that every account is a human, or a legitimate business account like Fan2Stage or CoolToys. Yes I have accounts for myself, Fan2Stage and CoolToys. All of them are really me or my co-conspirators but we do catch bots responding from time to time trying to bait us into a conversation. Bot farms need to be filtered out. This eliminates the anonymity that we love and restores our right to face our accusers. I know, that is no fun.

Second, we need to put down our phones, be respectful and considerate. Before responding to that “CoolToys Guy is a jackass” tweet, take the time to make your own opinion. It’s time to stop being sheep, following a herd guided by bots. It’s time to be ourselves, and respect each other for who we are.

Shakespeare was wrong, we need to kill the bots first.

Quick Addition after responding to Elon Musks Tweet – While I agree with Elon’s Tweet, there is going to be a lot more work than just making people pay $8 a month for verification. Why wouldn’t I pay $8 a month for my bot to get verified? Personally I don’t tweet enough to care a latte’s worth, but fake accounts and bots need to be eliminated, and we need to be ourselves and be responsible for what we say and post.

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