image of fake news on a laptop

America’s not the only one suffering from a plague of bots on Social Media and streams of ever more outrageous attacks on democracy by the likes of Donald Trump.

My Twitter followers dropped by hundreds a week over the last couple of weeks, which is alarming to a writer trying to build a social media platform.

In answer to a query I’m told that Twitter has a policy now of carrying out electronic spring cleaning. I’m in the same company as many Americans, targeted by malicious bots feeding me fake news Tweets.

Why they would target me and those like me wasn’t clear until I saw a piece on a US media outlet. Russian bots target anyone they deem to be liable to spread their malicious lies. Me? Why me? I’m nobody special. Then I remembered a Tweet I had seen after a terrorist attack in London. A Tweeted picture with an outraged headline of a victim in London lying on the ground showing a Muslim woman walking past indifferent to the victim’s plight. I admit, I was a little outraged, until it was revealed as a photo-shopped picture. The lurid headline and picture had done its work to a degree and I could have re-tweeted it at the click of a button… but I didn’t, thank goodness. It was real fake news, not Trump fake news, spread by these Russian bots we are hearing more and more of.

I’m not one for jumping on bandwagons and screaming and shouting outrage. I like to think I’m a little more reflective and thoughtful than that. But I can see how these false images and headlines posted across social media sites are shared at an exponential rate by those who are prone to Tweeting before they think. Propaganda from certain quarters is being directed at many of us, not just Americans.

Perhaps we all have a duty to be aware of fake news in this day and age.

Tom Kane © 2017

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