Research is demonstrating that changing the entire narrative on a topic is shockingly easy on social media sites. Sites that claim to be free of such manipulation via user-submitted content and using up/down vote systems such as Reddit are shockingly susceptible.
In most cases, researchers found it only took 1 bot casting 3-5 up/down votes at the right time to change the tone of an entire subreddit for/against something. Further experiments showed that it only took about $200 to get a completely false story to the front page of Reddit. There is growing evidence that this is already been happening in the Bitcoin Reddit forum.
This is likely not only going to be used by advertisers but foreign agencies to change the narratives of just about any topic. All of this comes on a budget that is just pennies compared to traditional advertising and military efforts.
Perhaps this will cause us to come full-circle back to curated media – or for a startup to start a vetting and verification service?
Either way, the old adage is as true than ever: Don’t believe it just because you read it on the internet. But now we might add: Also don’t believe it just because it gets lots of up/down votes.