Latest in Gear

Image credit: HAZEMMKAMAL via Getty Images

Congress is asking vape manufacturers if they used social media bots

Bots that spew vaping spam are a uniquely modern problem.
194 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

HAZEMMKAMAL via Getty Images

Congress wants to know if the largest vaping companies used bot-generated social-media messages to market their products. The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Massachusetts attorney general have asked each of the five largest manufacturers if they've relied on automated, bot-posted campaigns, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Vaping has received a ton of attention this year -- from the mysterious lung illness it seems to be causing to campaigns to legislation to deter teen vaping. Bots have gotten their fair share of the spotlight, too, with spam accounts promoting porn and undermining democracy. Bots that spew vaping spam are a uniquely modern problem, and one with the potential to reach tons of people. In a study funded by the New Jersey-based Nicholson Foundation, researchers looked at 1.2 million Twitter messages related to e-cigarettes or tobacco. A full 77 percent came from accounts believed to be bots.

According to The Wall Street Journal, three of the major companies -- Reynolds American Inc., Juul Labs Inc. and Japan Tobacco International USA Inc. -- said they haven't used bots. Someone familiar with the matter at NJOY LLC said that company doesn't use bots, and Fontem Ventures did not respond to WSJ's requests for comment.

What Congress wants to know is if bot-driven social media posts have been used for deceptive or misleading campaigns. Some feel the industry relied heavily on social media because it was hoping to reach the youths. But tracking down who's responsible for the bots may be difficult because they are often used by contractors hired by companies, and there are no national laws requiring that bots identify themselves as automated.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
194 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

The 2019 Engadget Holiday Gift Guide

View
Motorola's revived RAZR is a fashion-forward foldable

Motorola's revived RAZR is a fashion-forward foldable

View
Mark Wahlberg is poised to join the 'Uncharted' movie

Mark Wahlberg is poised to join the 'Uncharted' movie

View
John Carmack takes a step back at Oculus to work on human-like AI

John Carmack takes a step back at Oculus to work on human-like AI

View
NASA renames Kuiper Belt object following controversy

NASA renames Kuiper Belt object following controversy

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr