Sockpuppet (Internet)

A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.[1]

The term now includes other misleading uses of online identities, such as those created to praise, defend or support a person or organization,[2] to manipulate public opinion,[3] or to circumvent a suspension or ban from a website. A significant difference between the use of a pseudonym[4] and the creation of a sockpuppet is that the sockpuppet poses as an independent third-party unaffiliated with the puppeteer. Sockpuppets are unwelcome in many online communities and may be blocked.

A "sockpuppet" was originally a child's toy made from a sock. The one pictured is the creation of Puppetmaster Timmy Turner.


The first documented use of the term "sockpuppet" dates back to July 9, 1993,[5] but it did not become common in USENET groups until 1996. The first Oxford English Dictionary entry was "a person whose actions are controlled by another; a minion", with a citation from U.S. News and World Report, March 27, 2000.[6]

The history of reviewing one's own work under another name predates the Internet. Walt Whitman and Anthony Burgess both reviewed their books under pseudonyms.[7] Another notable example was Benjamin Franklin.[8]

On October 21, 2013 the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) condemned paid advocacy sockpuppeting on Wikipedia and, on October 23, specifically banned editing by the public relations firm Wiki-PR.[9] In August and September 2015 the WMF uncovered another group of sockpuppets known as Orangemoody.[10]


Block evasion

One reason for sockpuppeting is to circumvent a block, ban or other form of sanction imposed on the person's original account. After access is restricted, people may try to get around the sanctions by using alternate accounts.[11]

Ballot stuffing

Sockpuppets may be created during an online poll to submit multiple votes in favor of the puppeteer. A related usage is the creation of multiple identities, each supporting the puppeteer's views in an argument, attempting to position the puppeteer as representing majority opinion and sideline opposition voices. In the abstract theory of social networks and reputation systems, this is known as a sybil attack.

A sockpuppet-like use of deceptive fake identities is used in stealth marketing. The stealth marketer creates one or more pseudonymous accounts, each one claiming to be owned by a different enthusiastic supporter of the sponsor's product, book or ideology.[12][13]

Strawman sockpuppet

A strawman sockpuppet is a false flag pseudonym created to make a particular point of view look foolish or unwholesome in order to generate negative sentiment against it. Strawman sockpuppets typically behave in an unintelligent, uninformed, or bigoted manner and advance "straw man" arguments that their puppeteers can easily refute. The intended effect is to discredit more rational arguments made for the same position.[14] Such sockpuppets behave in a similar manner to Internet trolls.

A particular case is the concern troll, a false flag pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the sockpuppet claims to hold. The concern troll posts in Web forums devoted to its declared point of view and attempts to sway the group's actions or opinions while claiming to share their goals, but with professed "concerns". The goal is to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt (aka FUD) within the group.


The term "meatpuppet" (or "meat puppet") is an online version of a shill, and is used as a pejorative description of various online behaviors. The term was in use before the Internet gained public awareness, including references in Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction story "The Diary of the Rose" (1976),[15] the alternative rock band Meat Puppets, and the cyberpunk novelist William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984).[16] Editors of Wikipedia use the term to label contributions of new community members if suspected of having been recruited by an existing member to support their position.[17] Such a recruited member is considered analogous to a sockpuppet even though he/she is actually a separate individual (i.e. "meat") rather than a fictitious creation. Wired columnist Lore Sjöberg put "meat puppet" first on a satirical list of "common terms used at Wikipedia", defining the term as "a person who disagrees with you".[18]

Nevertheless, other online sources use the term "meatpuppet" to describe sockpuppet behaviors. For example, according to one online encyclopedia, a meat puppet "publishes comments on blogs, wikis and other public venues about some phenomenon or product in order to generate public interest and buzz"—that is, he/she is engaged in behavior more widely known as "astroturfing".[19] A 2006 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education defined a meat puppet as "a peculiar inhabitant of the digital world—a fictional character that passes for a real person online."[20][21]

Threat for online identity

Social validation and trust

Considering the interactions between people through social networks, different types of interpersonal ties are created: weak ties and strong ties. Both are important considering online relationships.

A weak tie is a quite tenuous relationship whereas a strong tie describes a relationship between two persons that know each other well. It can be thanks to cultural proximity or a big exchange of information for instance. Strong ties exist between people that matter for each other, like friends and family.They are to be found in online communities for example. A community is a restrained group of people. These people share a strong common interest. It could be about saga movies or a specific kind of music. The trust is essential to establish such ties. One can enter the circle but he has to prove that he has the same interest. He has to go through social validation. By showing to multiple members that one is reliable, he could be accepted.

The use of sockpuppet and more specifically block evasion sockpuppets threatens the idea of social validation.[22] Circumventing a block or a ban implies luring people. The existence of such communities relies on trust, therefore this trust could be at stake because of fake identities such as sockpuppets.

The art of spectacle

Sockpuppetry uses exaggerated features and likes to catch people's attention by creating clumsy characters. The very name of it shows the use of the art of spectacle : puppets are made for artistic and humoristic shows. Indeed, as explained in the part “Investigation of sockpuppetry”, people who are in charge with finding such accounts try to recognize them thanks to their writing style. It shows that their goal is sometimes closer to trolling than hiding the fact that they are fake. It is not rare to see people use the art of spectacle to manipulate others’ minds or to convey a message.[23] It is even easier to dissimulate a message using humor. One of the main goals of sockpuppetry is to discredit some people's ideas and the use of humor is very efficient for that. Indeed, there is no better way to make someone lose his credit than by mocking him or, even worse, his speech. In that way, sockpuppets are very similar to internet trolls. Thus, as for trolls, it could be worth wondering whether we could find a positive consequence of sockpuppets actions or not.

Investigation of sockpuppetry

A number of techniques have been developed to determine whether accounts are sockpuppets, including comparing the IP addresses of suspected sockpuppets and comparative analysis of the writing style of suspected sockpuppets.[24]

Legal implications of sockpuppetry in the United States

In 2008, 49-year-old Missouri resident Lori Drew was prosecuted and found guilty by a Federal court jury in connection with the creation of a MySpace account on which she claimed to be a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Drew's goal had been to create a relationship with Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who had been in conflict with Drew's daughter. After "Josh" ended the relationship with Megan, Megan committed suicide. Drew was found guilty in connection with misrepresenting her identity in violation of the MySpace terms of service.

Although the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney claimed that this conduct was covered by federal computer fraud legislation against "accessing a computer without authorization via interstate commerce",[25][26] the trial court granted a motion by Drew to throw out the verdict. Drew successfully argued that her use of a false identity did not constitute unauthorized access to MySpace, citing a 1973 breach of contract dispute where a court of appeals ruled that "fraudulently induced consent is consent nonetheless."[27] The prosecution appealed the trial court judge's decision to throw out the guilty verdict, but later dropped its appeal.[28]

In 2010, in People v. Golb, 50-year-old lawyer Raphael Golb was convicted on 30 criminal charges, including identity theft, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment, for using multiple sockpuppet accounts to attack and impersonate historians he perceived as rivals of his father, Norman Golb.[29] Golb defended his actions as "satirical hoaxes" protected by free-speech rights. He was disbarred and sentenced to six months in prison but remained free on appeal on $25,000 bail.[30]

In 2014 a Florida state circuit court held that sock puppetry is tortious interference with business relations, and awarded injunctive relief against it during the pendency of litigation. The court found that "the act of falsifying multiple identities" is conduct that should be enjoined. It explained that the conduct was wrongful "not because the statements are false or true, but because the conduct of making up names of persons who do not exist to post fake comments by fake people to support Defendants' position tortiously interferes with Plaintiffs' business" and such "conduct is inherently unfair." The court, therefore, ordered the defendants to "remove or cause to be removed all postings creating the false impression that more [than one] person are commenting on the program th[an] actually exist." The court also found, however, that the comments of the defendants "which do not create a false impression of fake patients or fake employees or fake persons connected to program (those posted under their respective names) are protected by The Constitution of the United State of America, First Amendment."[31]

Examples of sockpuppetry

Business promotion

In 2007, the CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, was discovered to have posted as "Rahodeb" on the Yahoo Finance Message Board, extolling his own company and predicting a dire future for its rival, Wild Oats Markets, while concealing his relationship to both companies. Whole Foods argued that none of Mackey's actions broke the law.[32][33]

During the 2007 trial of Conrad Black, chief executive of Hollinger International, prosecutors alleged that he had posted messages on a Yahoo Finance chat room using the name "nspector", attacking short sellers and blaming them for his company's stock performance. Prosecutors provided evidence of these postings in Black's criminal trial where he was convicted of mail fraud and obstruction. The postings were raised at multiple points in the trial.[32]

Book and film reviews

An computer glitch in 2004 revealed the names of many authors who had written reviews of their books using pseudonyms. John Rechy, who wrote the best-selling 1963 novel City of Night, was one of the more famous authors unmasked in this way, and was shown to have written numerous five-star reviews of his own work.[7] In 2010, historian Orlando Figes was found to have written Amazon reviews under the names "orlando-birkbeck" and "historian", praising his own books and condemning those of fellow historians Rachel Polonsky and Robert Service. The two sued Figes and won monetary damages.[34][35] During a panel in 2012, UK fiction writer Stephen Leather admitted using pseudonyms to praise his own books, claiming that "everyone does it". He spoke of building a "network of characters", some operated by his friends, who discussed his books and had conversations with him directly.[36] The same year, UK crime fiction writer RJ Ellory admitted having used a pseudonymous account name to write a positive review for each of his own novels, and additionally a negative review for two other authors.[37][38]

David Manning was a fictitious film critic, created by a marketing executive working for Sony Corporation to give consistently good reviews for releases from Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures, which could then be quoted in promotional material.[39]

Blog commentary

American reporter Michael Hiltzik was temporarily suspended from posting to his blog, "The Golden State", on the Los Angeles Times website after he admitted "posting there, as well as on other sites, under false names." He used the pseudonyms to attack conservatives such as Hugh Hewitt and L.A. prosecutor Patrick Frey—who eventually exposed him.[40][41] Hiltzik's blog at the LA Times was the newspaper's first blog. While suspended from blogging, Hiltzik continued to write regularly for the newspaper.

Lee Siegel, a writer for The New Republic magazine, was suspended for defending his articles and blog comments under the user name "Sprezzatura." In one such comment, "Sprezzatura" defended Siegel's bad reviews of Jon Stewart: "Siegel is brave, brilliant and wittier than Stewart will ever be."[42][43]

Government sockpuppetry

As an example of state-sponsored Internet sockpuppetry, In 2011, a California company called Ntrepid was awarded a $2.76 million contract from US Central Command for "online persona management" operations[44] to create "fake online personas to influence net conversations and spread US propaganda" in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Pashto.[44] The activity was part of Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), a programme first developed in Iraq as a weapon of psychological warfare.

On September 11, 2014, a number of sockpuppet accounts reported an explosion at a chemical plant in Louisiana. The reports came on a range of media, including Twitter and YouTube, but US authorities claimed the entire event to be a hoax. The information was determined by many to have originated with a Russian government-sponsored sockpuppet management office in Saint Petersburg, called the Internet Research Agency.[45] Russia was again implicated by the US intelligence community in 2016 for using paid trolls in the US Election.[46]

The Institute of Economic Affairs claimed in a 2012 paper that the United Kingdom government, and the EU, fund charities whose purpose is to campaign and lobby for causes the government supports. In one example 73% of responses to a government consultation was the direct result of campaigns by alleged "sock puppet" organizations.[47]

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of sockpuppet".
  2. ^ Stone, Brad (July 16, 2007). "The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped". New York Times.
  3. ^ "China Uses an Army of Sockpuppets to Control Public Opinion – and the US Will Too".
  4. ^ A legitimate pseudonym is sometimes termed an "alt", short for "alternate identity."
  5. ^ Dana Rollins (July 9, 1993). "Arty/Scotto". Newsgroupbit.listserv.fnord-l. Usenet: 248375@AUDUCADM.DUC.AUBURN.EDU. Retrieved June 3, 2009. ... one is merely the sock puppet manifestation of the other...
  6. ^ OED, online edition, June 2011 (accessed August 18, 2011). The reference is to one Jennifer Brand, a 24-year-old student who backed President Clinton in 1996, by calling Gore 'a sock puppet.'
  7. ^ a b Amy Harmon, "Amazon Glitch Unmasks War Of Reviewers", The New York Times, February 14, 2004.
  8. ^ "Name That Ben", PBS.
  9. ^ "Wikimedia Foundation sends cease and desist letter to WikiPR «  Wikimedia blog".
  10. ^ Dredge, Stuart (September 6, 2015). "Wikipedia founder backs site's systems after extortion scam" – via The Guardian.
  11. ^ Poland, Bailey: Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online, p. 230
  12. ^ Sweney, Mark (May 21, 2008). "Should stealth marketing be regulated?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  13. ^ "I'd Love This Product Even If I Weren't A Stealth Marketer". The Onion. December 14, 2005. Archived from the original on December 16, 2005.
  14. ^ Thomler, Craig (April 27, 2011). "Battle of the sockpuppets", Government in the Lab: The Online Magazine for Government and Politics Around the World
  15. ^ Le Guin, Ursula (1976). "The Diary of the Rose". In Jack Dann; Gardner Dozois (eds.). Future Power: A Science Fiction Anthology. Random House. p. 17. ISBN 0-394-49420-2. Retrieved April 30, 2011.
  16. ^ Nayar, Pramod (2004). Virtual Worlds. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. p. 123. ISBN 0-7619-3228-3.
  17. ^ WP:MEAT
  18. ^ Lore Sjöberg (January 4, 2009). "The Wikipedia FAQK". Wired. Archived from the original on March 27, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
  19. ^ "meat puppet Definition: TechEncyclopedia from TechWeb". The Computer Language Company. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  20. ^ Read, Brock (October 9, 2006) The Chronicle of Higher Education: The Wired Campus Attack of the 'Meat Puppets'
  21. ^ Ahrens, Frank (October 7, 2006) Washington Post Emerge as Internet's Effective, and Deceptive, Salesmen Page D01
  22. ^ "Community-Based Identity Validation on Online Social Networks" (3 July 2014).
  23. ^ Gabriella Coleman "Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls and the Politics of Transgression and Spectacle, The Social Media Reader, ed. Michael Mandiberg" (2012)
  24. ^ Gent, Edd (April 6, 2017). "Sock puppet accounts unmasked by the way they write and post". New Scientist.
  25. ^ Tossell, Ivor (December 4, 2008). "Cyberbullying verdict turns rule-breakers into criminals". Globe and Mail. Toronto, Canada: CTVglobemedia. Archived from the original on December 9, 2008.
  26. ^ "Lori Drew is a meanie". Slate. The Washington Post Company. December 3, 2008.
  27. ^ Zetter, Kim (December 15, 2008). "Lori Drew Files New Bid for Dismissal on Grounds that MySpace Authorized Access". Wired News. Condé Nast Publishing.
  28. ^ "Lori Drew cleared of MySpace cyber-bullying". Sydney Morning Herald. July 3, 2009.
  29. ^ Eligon, John (November 18, 2010). "Dispute Over Dead Sea Scrolls Leads to a Jail Sentence". New York Times.
  30. ^ "NY lawyer gets jail in Dead Sea Scrolls case" (November 18, 2010) AP.
  31. ^ New Directions for Young Adults, Inc. v. Davis (17th Jud. Cir., Broward Cty. Sept. 26, 2014) (slip op.).
  32. ^ a b BRAD STONE and MATT RICHTEL, "The Hand That Controls the Sock Puppet Could Get Slapped", The New York Times, July 16, 2007.
  33. ^ Martin, Andrew (July 16, 2007). "Whole Foods Executive Used Alias". New York Times.
  34. ^ Richard Lea and Matthew Taylor "Historian Orlando Figes admits posting Amazon reviews that trashed rivals", The Guardian, April 23, 2010
  35. ^ "Orlando Figes to pay fake Amazon review damages", BBC, July 16, 2010.
  36. ^ Jake Kerridge, "Do Consumer Are RJ Ellory's faked reviews the tip of the iceberg?", Daily Telegraph (London), September 4, 2012.
  37. ^ Hough, Andrew (September 2, 2012). "RJ Ellory: detected, crime writer who faked his own glowing reviews". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  38. ^ Streitfeld, David (September 4, 2012). "His Biggest Fan Was Himself". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  39. ^ John Horn. ""The Reviewer Who Wasn't There."". Archived from the original on June 9, 2001. Retrieved June 9, 2001.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Newsweek web exclusive. June 2, 2001.
  40. ^ Weiss, Michael (April 21, 2006). "I Spy Your IP". Slate. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  41. ^ Howard, Kurtz (April 21, 2006). "Los Angeles Times Yanks Columnist's Blog". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
  42. ^ Aspan, Maria (September 4, 2006). "New Republic Suspends an Editor for Attacks on Blog". NY Times. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  43. ^ Cox, Ana Marie (December 16, 2006). "Making Mischief on the Web". Time. Retrieved March 30, 2007.
  44. ^ a b Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media", The Guardian. March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  45. ^ Chen, Adrian (June 2, 2015). "The Agency". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  46. ^ Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution, January 6, 2017
  47. ^ Christopher Snowden (July 2012). "Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why" (PDF). Institute of Economic Affairs. Retrieved April 20, 2016.

External links


Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants. It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source's financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word "grassroots". The implication behind the use of the term is that instead of a "true" or "natural" grassroots effort behind the activity in question, there is a "fake" or "artificial" appearance of support.

Comment spam

Comment spam is a term referencing a broad category of spambot or spammer postings which abuse web-based forms to post unsolicited advertisements as comments on forums, blogs, wikis and online guestbooks. Related topics include:

Forum spam, posts on Internet forums that contains related or unrelated advertisements, links to malicious websites, and abusive or otherwise unwanted information

Newsgroup spam, a type of spam where the targets are Usenet newsgroups

Social spam, unwanted spam content appearing on social networks and any website with user-generated content

Spam in blogs, a form of spamdexing done by posting random comments, copied material, or promotion of commercial services

Troll (Internet), a person who sows discord on the Internet

Hit-and-run posting, a tactic where a poster at an Internet forum enters, makes a post, only to disappear immediately after

Sockpuppet (Internet), an online identity used for purposes of deception

Astroturfing, the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization

Internet manipulation

Internet manipulation refers to media manipulation on the Internet.Such manipulation may be conducted for purposes of propaganda, discreditation, harming corporate or political competitors, improving personal or brand reputation or plain trolling among other things. To accomplish these objectives, online influencers, hired professionals and/or software − typically Internet bots such as social bots, votebots and clickbots − may be used.

Cognitive hacking refers to a cyberattack that aims to change users' perceptions and corresponding behaviors.Internet manipulation is sometimes also used to describe selective Internet censorship or violations of net neutrality.

Internet troll

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord

by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses

and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll's amusement or a specific gain.

Both the noun and the verb form of "troll" is associated with Internet discourse. However, the word has also been used more widely. Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment. For example, the mass media have used "troll" to mean "a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families". In addition, depictions of trolling have been included in popular fictional works, such as the HBO television program The Newsroom, in which a main character encounters harassing persons online and tries to infiltrate their circles by posting negative sexual comments.

Multiple accounts

Multiple accounts may refer to:

Alternate character (also known as an alt), an additional character in addition to a primary player character

Multi-boxing, playing multiple characters at the same time

Multi-user, a system that allows more than one user of a computer

Time-sharing, a system that allows more than one user to access it at the same time

Sockpuppet (Internet), an online identity used for purposes of deception


OEV may refer to:

A location of Occupy Eugene

Abbreviation for L'Œuvre, a group in Architecture of Switzerland

Venezuelan Electoral Observatory, an observing group in the Venezuelan municipal elections, 2017

Opened-eye visuals, an effect of the street drug 2C-B

Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), a programme developed in Iraq as a weapon of psychological warfare, in Sockpuppet (Internet)

Other Exempt Vehicles, a classification of vehicles for Vehicle registration plates of the Philippines

Optional Exchange Vehicle program for Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle

Oil-Engined Vessel, a general term for all ships which use oil- or diesel-powered marine propulsion

Operation Earnest Voice

Operation Earnest Voice is an astroturfing campaign by the US government. The aim of the initiative is to use sockpuppets to spread pro-American propaganda on social networking sites based outside of the US. The campaign is operated by the United States Military Central Command (CENTCOM), thought to have been directed at jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries the Middle East.According to CENTCOM, the US-based Facebook and Twitter networks are not targeted by the program because US laws prohibit state agencies from spreading propaganda among US citizens as according to the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. However, according to the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, dissemination of foreign propaganda to domestic audiences is expressly allowed over the internet including social media networks. Isaac R. Porche, a researcher at the RAND corporation, claims it would not be easy to exclude US audiences when dealing with internet communications.


A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object that might be shaped like a human, animal or mythical creature, or another object to create the illusion that the puppet is "alive". The puppeteer may be visible to or hidden from the audience. A puppeteer can operate a puppet indirectly by the use of strings, rods, wires, electronics or directly by his or her own hands placed inside the puppet or holding it externally or any other part of the body- such as the legs. Some puppet styles require two or more puppeteers to work together to create a single puppet character.

The puppeteer's role is to manipulate the physical object in such a manner that the audience believes the object is imbued with life. In some instances, the persona of the puppeteer is also an important feature, as with ventriloquist's dummy performers, in which the puppeteer and the human figure-styled puppet appear onstage together, and in theatre shows like Avenue Q.

The puppeteer might speak in the role of the puppet's character, synchronising the movements of the puppet's "mouth". However, there is much puppetry which does not use the moving mouth (which is a lip-sync innovation created originally for television where close-up "headshots" are popular). Often, in theatre, a moveable mouth is used only for gestural expression, or speech might be produced by a non-moving mouth. In traditional glove puppetry often one puppeteer will operate two puppets at a time out of a cast of several.

Much work is produced without any speech at all with all the emphasis on movement

The relationship between the puppeteer and the puppet-maker is similar to that between an actor and a playwright, in cases where a puppet-maker designs a puppet for a puppeteer. Very often, though, the puppeteer assumes the joint roles of puppet-maker, director, designer, writer and performer. In this case a puppeteer is a more complete theatre practitioner than is the case with other theatre forms, in which one person writes a play, another person directs it, and then actors perform the lines and gestures.

Puppetry is a complex medium sometimes consisting of live performance, sometimes contributing to stop frame puppet animation, and film where performances might be technically processed as motion capture, CGI or as virtual puppetry.

Social bot

A social bot (also: socialbot or socbot) is an agent that communicates more or less autonomously on social media, often with the task of influencing the course of discussion and/or the opinions of its readers. It is related to chatbots but mostly only uses rather simple interactions or no reactivity at all. The messages (e.g. tweets) it distributes are mostly either very simple, or prefabricated (by humans), and it often operates in groups and various configurations of partial human control (hybrid). It usually targets advocating certain ideas, supporting campaigns, or aggregating other sources either by acting as a "follower" and/or gathering followers itself. In this very limited respect, social bots can be said to have passed the Turing test.

If the expectation is that behind every social media profile there should be a human, social bots always use fake accounts. This is not different from other social media API uses.

Social bots appear to have played a significant role in the United States presidential election, 2016 and their history appears to go back at least to the United States midterm elections, 2010. It is estimated that 9-15% of active Twitter accounts may be social bots and that 15% of the total Twitter population active in the US Presidential election discussion were bots. At least 400,000 thousand bots were responsible for about 3.8 million tweets, roughly 19% of the total volume.Twitterbots are already well-known examples, but corresponding autonomous agents on Facebook and elsewhere have also been observed. Nowadays, social bots are equipped with or can generate convincing internet personas that are well capable of influencing real people, although they are not always reliable.Social bots, besides being able to (re-)produce or reuse messages autonomously, also share many traits with spambots with respect to their tendency to infiltrate large user groups.Using social bots is against the terms of service of many platforms, especially Twitter and Instagram. However, a certain degree of automation is of course intended by making social media APIs available. Many users, especially businesses still automate their Instagram activity in order to gain real followers rather than buying fake ones. This is commonly done through third-party social automation companies.

The topic of a legal regulation of social bots is currently discussed in many countries, however due the difficulties to recognize social bots and to separate them from "eligible" automation via social media APIs, it is currently unclear how that can be done and also if it can be enforced. In any case, social bots are expected to play a role in future shaping of public opinion by autonomously acting as incessant and never-tiring influencers.

Sock puppet

A sock puppet is a puppet made from a sock or similar garment. The puppeteer wears the sock on a hand and lower arm as if it were a glove, with the puppet's mouth being formed by the region between the sock's heel and toe, and the puppeteer's thumb acting as the jaw. The arrangement of the fingers forms the shape of a mouth, which is sometimes padded with a hard piece of felt, often with a tongue glued inside.

The sock is stretched out fully so that it is long enough to cover the puppeteer's wrist and part of the arm. Often, the puppeteer hides behind a stand and raise the hand above it so that only the puppet is visible. Sock puppeteers may also stand in full view along with their puppets and hold conversations with them using ventriloquism.

Socks (disambiguation)

Socks are items of clothing worn on the feet.

Socks or sock may also refer to:

As a surname or nickname:

Jack Sock (born 1992), an American tennis player

Wilfried Sock (born 1944), an East German former ice hockey player

Socks Seibold (1896-1965), a Major League Baseball pitcher

Socks Seybold (1870-1921), a Major League Baseball outfielder

Tony Byrne (boxer) (born 1930), an Irish boxer also known as Socks Byrne

Bert "Sock" Wysocki, a fictional character in the television series ReaperArts and entertainment:

Sock!, a 1965 album by saxophonist Gene Ammons

Socks (novel), a 1973 children's novel about a cat named Socks Bricker by Beverly Cleary

Sock (novel), a 2004 novel by Penn JilletteOther uses:

SOCKS, an Internet protocol

Sockpuppet (Internet), or sock–a deceptive identity

Sock (anatomy), the lower part of a horse's foot and specifically its color

Sock, a symbol of comedy in ancient Greek theatre; see Sock and buskin

Socks (cat), a household pet of Bill Clinton

Socks (Blue Peter cat), a Blue Peter cat

Socks Glacier, in Ross Dependency of Antarctica

The Sock, a statue in Loughborough, United Kingdom


Usenet () is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979, and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages (called articles or posts, and collectively termed news) to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system (BBS) in many respects and is the precursor to Internet forums that are widely used today. Discussions are threaded, as with web forums and BBSs, though posts are stored on the server sequentially. The name comes from the term "users network".A major difference between a BBS or web forum and Usenet is the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their Internet service provider, university, employer, or their own server.

Usenet is culturally significant in the networked world, having given rise to, or popularized, many widely recognized concepts and terms such as "FAQ", "flame", and "spam".

Devices and

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