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updated 3/14/2011 2:10:33 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:10:33

Anyone who uses social networks (especially Twitter) is probably familiar with the fake "friends" who aren't really people and simply spew ads. Gartner says that thanks to marketing technology advances, it may even be worse in a few years.

Gartner, a technology research company, released a report about how technology will change the workplace and social scene in the next five years. It includes some interesting things, such as a prediction that 80 percent of businesses will use tablets (think Apple iPad) to help employees do their work by 2013.

But an even more intriguing, and possibly alarming, prediction came at the end when Gartner indicated that "By 2015, 10 percent of your online "friends" will be nonhuman."

Those fake, ad-spewing social accounts will get more sophisticated, so much so that companies will actually start using them to interact with customers. Gartner says these "social bots" will be able to engage convincingly with customers and have two-way interactions, and in turn customers will possibly interact with these bots as much as they do with real friends.

This is a significant leap from current social network marketing campaigns, which are very one-sided. Companies mostly just send out announcements to customers interspersed with a few wry jokes, depending on the courage of the marketing department. But these social bots will interact on a more personal level, which will benefit companies because their customers feel they are being catered to as an individual.

You can bet there will still be ads, though, regardless of how interested the bot is in what happened to you at work.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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