Yes, they worry about money, and controversy is something that makes them nervous, and the bigger the perception of the controversy, the more willing they are to stay out of the fray. I don’t know how aware they are of fake bots swamping them, many ordinary unthinking people and voters seem to be prone to their influence.
But no, I don’t think a spontaneous protest huge enough within 24 hours to sufficiently scare advertisers into pulling out is reality. That is really the most ridiculous thing to believe, which you do. I mean, come on, people may care, but geesh, not that much, not so dramatically and speedily. Besides, Democrats don’t have that kind of political power, or they could have easily exerted that momentum to win the election. Unfortunately (for them), they haven’t found a way to make these fake bots vote yet.
But as I said, we’re learning about them and hopefully getting rid of them. The Federal government, FBI, is said to be investigating fake bots used by Russians to influence the election, which is part and parcel of this investigation in Russian complicity you’re hearing about.
Here’s the Atlantic, testing fake bots for Hillary, Trump, and Sanders during the campaign, and found about 20% for each on Twitter spreading vocal support or links to news, etc.
Americans are now so familiar with the common set pieces—the crowded rally, the carefully timed roadside stop—that they’re largely taken for granted as part of the political process. But social media fakery is arguably a whole new sphere of American campaigns—one with its own dynamics that will only get more interesting in future cycles.
Faux followers can come with risks, as demonstrated by Andrés Sepúlveda, the convicted Latin American political consultant who reportedly wielded an army of 30,000 fake Twitter accounts to sway public opinion. And it would certainly deflate Trump’s persona if a substantial portion of his Twitter community turned out not to be real, especially considering how often he boasts about the size of his following and cites it among his qualifications.
“We like to say they act as a megaphone on social media,” said Clayton A. Davis, a Ph.D. student at Indiana University who studies Twitter bots. “We as humans tend to say, the more people talking about something, the more likely it is to be true. We know that that’s false, but that’s just how we work. You not only add volume, but you lend credibility to the message, when in reality, it’s really only one person.”