During the company’s Platforms State of the Union event at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced that it is building up a new tool named Real User Indicator that could cut down number of bots signing up for new accounts with mobile, desktops etc. secretively. The feature checks for traits more consistent with the bots than people and therefore, informs an app developer of the situation so that the developer can take further necessary action to verify the authenticity.
“It uses on-device intelligence to determine if the originating device is behaving in a normal way. The device generates a value without sending any specifics to Apple,” an Apple spokesperson explained onstage during the event. The value is then “boiled down to a single value shared with your app at account setup time,” and “depending on the value you receive, you can be confident your user is a real user or get a notice you should take a second look.”
However it is not clear how this value is generated as there is no cross check of the inputted information due to concerns regarding data privacy. There are few possibilities. On-device intelligence may mean Apple is monitoring how fast certain particulars are filled during the signing-up of new account , something that would indicate an automated process is behind the new account. Apple could look at factors like the speed of account verification via email, or even analyze typed-out information for the name or address particulars of the sign-up process.
Regardless of how exactly it works, the Real User Indicator could make a big impact on the number of bot accounts escalating across the internet. If it functions as per the design and is in fact a strong indicator of fraudulent or suspicious digital behavior, we could see fake activity, prevalent in every corner of online life, being curbed.
As already noticed, Captcha getting better and better, all thanks to advances in artificial intelligence that has rendered simple bot test obsolete. However, the bot account will get undetected if the developer is unable to put those designed tests in front of fishy new accounts.
According to an article published in New York Magazine’s Max Read last December, Read made an argument that we are approaching or have passed an event called ‘The Inversion’ in which largest tech companies will mistake a real activity to be a fake one and a bot activity for the real deal due to the reason that most activities like page views, video views, tweets, retweets, comments and many more come from bots rather than people.
Many big companies like Facebook and Twitter already have internal AI-powered systems designed for crushing bots and stopping automated account creation and these system have been improving. For instance, Facebook has removed 2.2 billion fake accounts between January and March, majority of the accounts being caught by the company’s automated fraud systems before the accounts went live.
Facebook suggests that the bot growth is accelerating due to number of factors ranging from the frequency and effectiveness of election interference and misinformation to the scores of illicit bot farms designed to juice analytics and sell fake marketing success.
It is uncertain if the Apple’s new developer feature will have a significant effect on detecting fake activity. Apple says that it’s designing Real User Indicator is not limited to iOS apps and also designed for apps used in watchOS, tvOS ones, macOS, and even the web, meaning that the feature will extend to Android and Windows devices.