A real war against bots takes place in India

April 24, 2019 | General

Multiple sources report of serious risk to the upcoming elections (19 May) in the largest democracy in the world. India has est. 1.3 billion inhabitants, 900 million registered voters and 600 million internet users, at least half of which use Facebook. Now all are endangered by mass disinformation.

ABTShield wrote earlier of the scale of digital ad fraud in this country estimated at USD 1.6 billion – 8.3% of all global losses to advertisers. Now bots and trolls aim at changing India’s narrative ahead of elections.

VIshal Krishna from YourStory reports that majority of disinformation attacks come from Pakistan and Eastern Europe. Yet there is an increasing domestic production from politicians of the main parties. The government has identified at least 50 bots employed to win minds of the Indian electorate.

Following the narratives of Indian politicians’ Twitter accounts reveals of Indian how they garner thousands of retweets from bots. Most of us think this mass support is provided by genuine followers, but bots are retweeting multiple times under fake names and identities. Follow the leaders of India’s two largest parties and see the tweets that ensue and the stories made available on the internet with an objective to set the public agenda.

Vishal Krishna, YourStory

It also gives a headache to large social media platforms that need to run massive audits to limit fake accounts traffic. Because of the country’s complexity, Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers in India analyze news in 10 of India’s 23 official languages, more than any other country, reports Saritha Rai from Bloomberg.

But human fact-checkers might not be enough. Even though Facebook has adopted a new strategy and now heavily relies on external journalists to verify stories appearing on users feeds, many cannot keep up with the paste of fake production of AI-powered trolls and bots.

ABTShield concludes that those good efforts need to gain strong AI-support. India may be the last lesson to learn from ahead of major European elections (26 May) and the U.S. Presidential elections in 2020.