Coca-Cola was forced to suspend an automated Twitter campaign last week after Gawker got the brand's bot to repeat quotes from "Mein Kampf," and it wasn't the first time brands have run into trouble with automated Twitter efforts. The New England Patriots' bot recently repeated a racist slur, and an AT&T bot accidentally spammed a wide base of users.
One of the "most startling" revelations in the ANA-White Ops study of digital ad fraud is that premium publishers don't offer any extra protection from bot traffic, Alex Kantrowitz writes. "Advertisers who assume that traffic to premium publishers is free of bots risk losing large amounts to intentional or unintentional bot fraud," the study reported.
Automated Twitter bots are "an open-access laboratory for creative programming," writes Rob Dubbin, creator of the @RealHumanPraise Twitter bot for Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report." It's unclear, though, whether Twitter will remain tolerant of bots and other quirky experiments now that they have gone public. "As a service, Twitter's greatest strength is that its users have total control. ... As a business, Twitter's greatest opportunity is in violating that control with advertisements," Dubbin writes.
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year broadened its discussions by engaging the general public via a series of live discussions on Facebook and coverage by "citizen reporters" from YouTube and MySpace. The leaders gathered at Davos "realize it's not enough to just discuss these issues in a vacuum," said Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg. "It has to be a discussion where you reach the people who support you or use your products."
At the 13th annual FIRST Robotics Competition this weekend, more than 300 student-designed robots from around the country will vie for a piece of the $4.5 million in scholarship money available. Founder Dean Kamen said he conceived of the robot games as a way of promoting often-overlooked careers in science and technology.