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Bad bots can help Facebook

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Facebook researchers have developed a Web-Enabled Simulation (WES) that uses machine learning to train bots to simulate “negative behavior” and be able to browse the web to do research, visit pages and even try to buy illegal products.

The project uses a new method of building large-scale, highly realistic simulations of complex social networks, and has direct application in the areas of protection, security and privacy, as explained by Mark Harman in a meeting with a restricted group of journalists who had echo in the international press. It is still a research project created in FAIR (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research), but it is believed that it can make Facebook more secure and help in the development of video games.

In the social network, groups of “innocent bots” and others of “bad bots” were created, which exploit the flaws in the system to behave in a less recommendable manner. Bots are trained to interact with each other, within communities of intelligent agents, using the same infrastructure as users, but never acting with real people. They can send messages, make publications, ask for friends, do research and even try to buy products that are banned on Facebook, such as drugs and weapons.

maus bots podem ajudar o facebook

For now this “army” of bots is trained to imitate behaviors that investigators know can actually happen, but the goal is to anticipate movements of hatred and wickedness.

The prevention of negative behaviors is one of the concerns of Facebook that has invested in several areas to moderate comments and posts, to prevent publications that violate the rules of non-violence and use of pornography, for example. However, the authorities have been very attentive to Facebook, which often violates this desirable conduct.

The researcher defends that in this type of tests the software has an ability to adapt and modify behavior that is ideal to anticipate possible changes.

The environment in which bots move was created specifically for the project and is WW, a scaled-down version of the WWW (World Wide Web). It is a simulated and controlled Facebook environment, but it uses the social network’s production platform. Here, bots are free to act like normal users, and even circumvent imposed security rules. In this way, it is possible to anticipate potential harmful behaviors.

To speed up the development of the WES simulation platform, Facebook is looking for help from the scientific community and has already detailed the progress of the simulation and the WW prototype.

Source: Guardian

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