Not all of the responses the world gives to your content are real. Follow bots, comment bots and other bot tools are affecting how content spreads in a negative way.

The internet is really good for some things: Information, provided you do your research and trust the right sources; socializing, provided you talk to the right people; making money, provided that everything works as it should and is as secure as it should be; sharing and creativity, provided there’s some level of respect; and exploitation, provided there’s — well — no, the internet is just good at that.

We toil endlessly to arrive at an amalgam of our work we think is complete enough to share with others, not caring, but secretly hoping that someone will like what we do. It’s our business, our hobby, our passion. Through YouTube, Vimeo, social media, we throw ourselves out there, exposing what we see fit so someone somewhere might give us a thumbs up, helping us achieve our fifteen megabytes of fame. We are scrutinized and judged, be it constructively or maliciously, for a small pittance, or merely for reassurance that we are on the right track. Those of us who understand help one another to build a better place. But our one voice means nothing, and our collective consensus now means even less.

For every thousand of us who may speak up for what we believe is right, there’s a bot in the corner of a temperature controlled room using hundreds of thousands of our own names against us, letting those who seek to exploit secure their stranglehold on tomorrow’s dollar, which we struggled so hard to make. For every honest coin we earn per month on page views, there’s someone with a bot driving someone else’s profit through the roof, allowing them to sit on a beach somewhere and laugh.

Do you want to make it look like you’ve got more followers? Want to sway the general opinion? Create a comment bot. It doesn’t matter if what it says is even part of the conversation. Want to make someone appear more popular than they are? Create a follow bot. We don’t really want the insightful, intelligent people at the top anyway. It’s not about what we like or want anyway, it’s about someone else’s agenda.

This is nothing new. It’s always been here, but things are changing. Bots are becoming — I hesitate to use the word — smarter. I’ve seen proof of bots scanning the comments and picking out parts of other posts, trying to piggyback on them to “seamlessly” integrate their own comments into the line as if legit. It’s not there yet, but it’s coming. It’s getting harder and harder to tell which comment is real, and don’t get me started on how many scam phone apps have over 1 million likes.

But I didn’t say that; it was a bot.

It’s the little guys, the legit guys, even the advertisers who are paying the price. You used to be able to trust that you couldn’t trust anyone, but now you don’t even know if there’s anyone really there to trust, if you get my meaning.

Scrap content makes page one and the good stuff gets buried, kind of like our national newspapers with politics (and yes, that’s a dig).

For the viewer, it means we can no longer trust that what we are really looking for has already been discovered and highlighted by our peers. For the presenter, it means that there’s no reliable method of feedback, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. But I didn’t say that; it was a bot.

Like every town and every turn, there are good people and bad, but on the internet, the tables are not turned; they’re broken. It is not the public we must fear. It is the programmer who has stolen our voices. We know what the internet should be. We know what we want it to be. This isn’t it.

Get YouTuber.