"Cyborgs", a combination of a human and a bot,[33][34] are used to spread fake news or create a marketing "buzz".[35] Cyborgs can be bot-assisted humans or human-assisted bots.[36] An example is a human who registers an account for which he sets automated programs to post, for instance, tweets, during his absence.[36] From time to time, the human participates to tweet and interact with friends. Cyborgs make it easier to spread fake news, as it blends automated activity with human input.[36] When the automated accounts are publicly identified, the human part of the cyborg is able to take over and could protest that the account has been used manually all along. Such accounts try to pose as real people; in particular, the number of their friends or followers should be resembling that of a real person. Often, such accounts use "friend farms" to collect a large number of friends in a short period of time.[37]
This is part of a wider trend. According to a study by US marketing firm Hill Holliday of Generation Z – people born after 1995 – half of those surveyed stated they had quit or were considering quitting at least one social media platform. When it comes to Gen Z’s relationship to social media, “significant cracks are beginning to show”, says the firm’s Lesley Bielby.
Observers have noted a range of positive and negative impacts of social media use. Social media can help to improve an individual's sense of connectedness with real or online communities, and can be an effective communication (or marketing) tool for corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, political parties, and governments. At the same time, concerns have been raised about possible links between heavy social media use and depression, and even the issues of cyberbullying, online harassment and "trolling". Currently, about half of young adults have been cyberbullied, and of those, 20% said that they have been cyberbullied regularly.[7] Another survey in the U.S. applied the Precaution Process Adoption Model to cyberbullying on Facebook among 7th grade students. According to this study, 69% of 7th grade students claim to have experienced cyberbullying, and they also said that it was worse than face-to-face bullying.[8] Both the bully and the victim are negatively affected, and the intensity, duration, and frequency of bullying are the three aspects that increase the negative effects on both of them.[9]
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