Humans and bots

Key Questions:

  • Who creates political bots and why?
  • Who follows political bots and why?
  • What makes some bots “successful”? We define success in terms of political impact and power.

The gist so far:

Most of the work on political bots so far has focused on computational approaches to identifying bots. There seems to be a divide between the bots for “good” and for “bad.” Good might be something like the @CongressEdits Twitter account which posts a tweet every time someone with a US government IP address makes an anonymous edit to Wikipedia. Bad might be something like bots which flood a certain hashtag with tweets in order to make it harder for activists to connect. But we want to understand the human side. Heather FordCornelius Puschmann and I are starting with those “good” bots and trying to sort out who is interacting with them and to what end.

Methods:

We are combining content analysis of social media posts and news articles with in-depth interviews.

Are you a bot creator or have you interacted with a political bot (e.g. used information a bot provided)? Let us know!