Well-Planned “BOT Operation” To hit Racism Among Sri Lankan Facebook Users

Seemingly racist reactions to a news item that appeared on a prominent Facebook page has indicated a suspicious “BOT operations” to incite racism in Sri Lanka, social media analysts and observers say.

The news item, which appeared on well-known journalist Azam Ameen’s Facebook page, referred to the crash of the Sri Lanka Air Force training craft last evening. There was a considerable number of “haha” reactions to this post and the large majority of such reactions came from profiles with Muslim names.

When Asian Mirror examined those profiles, it became evident that most of them were fake accounts and it was a well-orchestrated opreation to post inappropiate reactions to a news item deeply sensitive to many Sri Lankans.

“It is important to examine who is behind this BOT operation as it creates distrust and tension among different ethnic and religious communities in Sri Lanka,” a prominent social media analyst said.

A bot is a software application that is programmed to do certain tasks. Bots are automated and they run according to their instructions without a human user needing to start them up. Bots often imitate or replace a human user’s behavior to do repetitive tasks, and they can do them much faster than human users could. It is important to investigate whether some group has deployed “BOTS” to engage with racially sensitive content relating to Sri Lanka to create tensions between communities.

The aircraft crash killed Shalinda Amarakoon, a trainee pilot who had joined the Sri Lanka Air Force in January 2019. He was on a solo training mission when the aircraft lost radio communication with the air traffic control tower at China Bay at approximately 1.15PM last afternoon.

Sri Lanka, on several occassions, has banned social media temporarily as a way of controling hate speech during anti-Muslim riots in some parts of the country. A number of individuals who posted content inciting racialy-orchestrated violence have been arrested by the law enforcement authorities.

(Asian Mirror)
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