Trump bots and algorithmic experimentation on Twitter
Keywords:Twitter, bots, software robots, algorithm, political
Although media headlines about Twitterbots often revolve around their malicious uses (e.g., inflating follower counts, pushing polarizing messages, confusing users), many bots add value to the platform by contributing informational or creative content. Bot creators have used the relatively open Twitter API to experiment with automation, and over the past five years, a growing number of accounts, dubbed here the Trump bots, have filled Twitter with Donald Trump’s own words filtered through the many possible concepts of a Twitterbot. This study considers the breadth of Twitterbots created around Trump’s Twitter persona through a qualitative categorization of 59 Trump bots, examining how these projects match many of the major threads of algorithmic experimentation used by the Twitterbot maker community at large. Three major functions of Trump bots — language play, information distribution, and direct criticism — are identified and explored through relevant exemplars.
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