Social bot

  (Redirected from Socialbot)

A social bot (also: socialbot or socbot) is a particular type of chatterbot that is employed in social media networks to automatically generate messages (e.g. tweets) or in general advocate certain ideas, support campaigns, and public relations either by acting as a "follower" or even as a fake account that gathers followers itself. In this respect, social bots can be said to have passed the Turing test.[1]

Social bots appear to have played a significant role in the United States presidential election, 2016 and their history appears to go back at least to the United States midterm elections, 2010. Twitterbots are already well-known examples, but corresponding autonomous agents on Facebook and elsewhere have also been observed. Nowadays, social bots can generate convincing internet personas that are well capable of influencing real people.[2][1][3]

Social bots, besides being able to produce messages autonomously, also share many traits with spambots with respect to their tendency to infiltrate large user groups.[citation needed]

Unless strict regulations on their use are passed, socialbots are expected to play a major role in future shaping of public opinion by autonomously acting as incessant and never-tiring influencers.[4][5][6]



Lutz Finger identifies 5 immediate uses for social bots:[7]

  • foster fame: having an arbitrary number of (unrevealed) bots as (fake) followers can help simulate real success
  • spamming: having advertising bots in online chats is similar to email spam, but a lot more direct
  • mischief: e.g. signing up an opponent with a lot of fake identities and spam the account or help others discover it to discreditize the opponent
  • bias public opinion: influence trends by countless messages of similar content with different phrasings
  • limit free speech: important messages can be pushed out of sight by a deluge of automated bot messages

The effects of all points can be likened to and support methods of traditional psychological warfare.


The first generation of bots could sometimes be distinguished from real users by their often superhuman capacities to post messages around the clock (and at massive rates). Later developments have succeeded in imprinting more "human" activity and behavioural patterns in the agent. To unambiguously detect social bots as what they are, a variety of criteria must be applied together using pattern detection techniques, some of which are:[3]

  • cartoon figures as user pictures
  • sometimes also random real user pictures are captured (identity fraud)
  • reposting rate
  • temporal patterns
  • sentiment expression
  • followers-to-friends ratio[8][9]
  • length of user names
  • variability in (re)posted messages

BotOrNot is a public Web service that checks the activity of a Twitter account and gives it a score based on how likely the account is to be a bot. The system leverages over a thousand features.[10][11] An active method that worked well in detecting early spam bots was to set up honeypot accounts where obvious nonsensical content was posted and then dumbly reposted (retweeted) by bots.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "What is socialbot? - Definition from". Retrieved 2016-12-16. 
  2. ^ Alessandro Bessi and Emilio Ferrara (2016-11-07). "Social bots distort the 2016 U.S. Presidential election online discussion". First Monday. 
  3. ^ a b Ferrara, Emilio; Varol, Onur; Davis, Clayton; Menczer, Filippo; Flammini, Alessandro (2015). "The Rise of Social Bots". Communications of the ACM. 59 (7): 96–104. arXiv:1407.5225 . doi:10.1145/2818717. 
  4. ^ "How robots could shape Germany's political future". The Local. 21 November 2016. "Social Bots" were the sinister cyber friend in the US elections who didn't actually exist. Could they also shape how Germans vote next year? 
  5. ^ (, Deutsche Welle. "The rise of political bots on social media - World - DW.COM - 06.08.2016". 
  6. ^ "How online 'chatbots' are already tricking you". BBC. 2014-06-09. Intelligent machines that can pass for humans have long been dreamed of, but as Chris Baraniuk argues, they’re already among us. 
  7. ^ Lutz Finger (Feb 17, 2015). "Do Evil - The Business Of Social Media Bots". 
  8. ^ "How to Find and Remove Fake Followers from Twitter and Instagram : Social Media Examiner". 
  9. ^ "TwitterAudit". 
  10. ^ "Truthy BotOrNot". 
  11. ^ Davis, Clayton; Onur Varol; Emilio Ferrara; Alessandro Flammini; Filippo Menczer (2016). "BotOrNot: A System to Evaluate Social Bots". Proc. WWW Developers Day Workshop. doi:10.1145/2872518.2889302. 
  12. ^ "How to Spot a Social Bot on Twitter". 2014-07-28. Social bots are sending a significant amount of information through the Twittersphere. Now there’s a tool to help identify them