Twitter bots

Ash Bhat (above) and fellow UC Berkeley undergrad Rohan Phadte have launched a Google Chrome web browser extension, Botcheck.me. The Indian American students say the tool sorts and tags propaganda bots on Twitter. (Facebook photo) 

A pair of Indian American students at U.C. Berkeley have launched a tool that promises to spot bots on Twitter.

According to a Wired magazine report, Ash Bhat and Rohan Phadte, both 20-year-old undergraduate students studying computer science at the university, launched a Google Chrome web browser extension that puts a button onto every Twitter profile and tweet.

By clicking on the Botcheck.me button, Twitter users will be able to see if an account is run by a person or automated program based on Bhat and Phadte’s personal machine-learning model, the report said.

According to the duo, they are doing something Twitter won’t by sorting out and tagging the propaganda bots designed to undermine, destabilize and inflame American political discourse, according to the publication.

Bhat told Wired that “by making data available for other fellow Americans,” their project is “pushing back” against Russian interference.

Bhat and Phadte, who run RoBhat Labs out of their Berkeley apartment, said they were drawn to the project after President Donald Trump threatened to defund U.C. Berkeley in a tweet earlier this year, according to the report.

“I don’t care what someone’s political view is, I just want them to be informed,” Bhat said in the Wired report. “Tech plays such a big role in information now, and a lot of people may think they’re informed while reading very biased sources and having their news very skewed. We’ve done that (in the tech industry), so we’re responsible for at least working towards a solution.”

This isn't their first dive into tweaking social media in some form. Earlier in the year, RoBhat launched NewsBot, a Facebook Messenger app that tells you the political leanings of news articles.

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