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Twitter has proven to be an invaluable tool for communication during breaking news intense periods of political unrest. When thousands of people tweet, the outside world gets a chance to understand events on the ground. But what if none of those thousands of people were real, and the events never happened? A malicious puppetmaster could create hundreds of Twitter bots, letting them live perfectly normal and believable lives for months while they build up followers. Then one day, a careful crafted false story unfolds on the stage of social media, played out by a single director with hundreds of actors. Real world Incidents have shown that powerful stories can become widespread before there is time for fact checking. Before anyone realizes all the TwitPics are faked, the false news will have made international headlines.
Social Robots challenge our preconceived notions of what social media can be used for. They present a dangerous threat to the news industry, but also a powerful opportunity to help people.