Now come socialbots. These automated charlatans are programmed to tweet and retweet. They have quirks, life histories and the gift of gab. Many of them have built-in databases of current events, so they can piece together phrases that seem relevant to their target audience. They have sleep-wake cycles so their fakery is more convincing, making them less prone to repetitive patterns that flag them as mere programs. Some have even been souped up by so-called persona management software, which makes them seem more real by adding matching Facebook, Reddit or Foursquare accounts, giving them an online footprint over time as they amass friends and like-minded followers.
For years the best in the sport have cheated their way through the Tour, and I’m not just talking about the last thirty years, going back to the Team Banesto and Marco Pantani scandals. I’m talking about the year 1904 and every year since. Cyclists have always looked for every advantage available, and most have done everything in their power to finish, and even more to win.
Here are seven cheaters of the Tour de France that have helped to build its storied history.
Last week, two senators challenged even the accuracy of a fact sheet prepared by the N.S.A. to counter Mr. Snowden’s claims about the phone data and Internet collection programs. Agency officials did not defend themselves; the fact sheet simply disappeared, without explanation, from the agency’s Web site.
Newly disclosed slides from an N.S.A. PowerPoint presentation on the agency’s Prism database of Internet data, posted on Saturday by The Washington Post, reveal that the F.B.I. plays a role as middleman between the N.S.A. and Internet companies like Google and Yahoo. The arrangement provides the N.S.A. with a defense, however nominal, against claims that it spies on United States soil.