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The Web: 'Bots' pushing poll results

Great story by Gene Koprowski about the influence of bots on elections.
By Gene J. Koprowski
United Press International

Published 10/13/2004 12:26 PM
CHICAGO, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry will walk across the stage Wednesday night and greet each other at the beginning of the third and final presidential debate. Already, across the country, e-mail messages are arriving in newsroom inboxes declaring a winner. A new form of spam is emerging this fall, called debate-spin spam, experts told UPI's The Web. The veracity of the e-mail messages being sent as letters to the editor is coming into question, as are the timing and content of many of the messages, because a significant percentage is being generated by bots, or intelligent software agents."In the world of politics, there are good bots and bad bots," said Christopher Faulkner, chief executive officer of C I Host, an online hosting service in Bedford, Texas. "There are hundreds of bots available for spamming or political use."For example, makes available a bot known as "Mr. Smith E-Mails Washington," which occupies a high-profile in the computing community, because it is intended for consumers to use to e-mail members of Congress. Bots also can be customized quite easily, too, and can send out millions of messages in minutes. "For these political-action groups, many of them probably set up their own in-house servers," Faulkner told The Web. "All it takes is a little know how and a little bandwidth."During the first presidential debate,, published by The Wall Street Journal, reported its letters editor received about 3,500 e-mails. The Washington Post wrote an editorial about the influx of e-mail it received, some declaring a winner to the debate before it had even commenced. --The Web is a weekly series by UPI examining the global telecommunications phenomenon known as the World Wide Web. E-mail sciencemail (at)

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