A Twitterbot is a bot program used to produce automated posts on the Twitter microblogging service, or to automatically follow Twitter users. Twitterbots come in various forms. For example, many serve as spam, enticing clicks on promotional links. Others post @replies or automatically "retweet" in response to tweets that include a certain word or phrase. These automatic tweets are often seen as fun or silly. Some Twitter users even program Twitterbots to assist themselves with scheduling or reminders.
It is sometimes desirable to identify when a Twitter account is controlled by a bot. In a 2012 paper, Chu et al. propose the following criteria that indicate that an account may be a bot (they were designing an automated system):
- "Periodic and regular timing" of tweets;
- Whether the tweet content contains known spam; and
- The ratio of tweets from mobile versus desktop, as compared to an average human Twitter user.
Examples of Twitterbots
There are many different types of Twitterbots and their purposes vary from one to another. Some bots may tweet helpful material such as @EarthquakesSF (description below). In total, Twitterbots are estimated to create approximately 24% of tweets that are on Twitter. Here are examples of some of the Twitterbots and how they interact with users on Twitter.
@BDZNappa replied with “WHAT!? NINE THOUSAND?” to anyone on Twitter that used the internet meme phrase “over 9000,". The account began in 2011, and was eventually suspended in 2015, mostly likely a victim of its own success.
@Betelgeuse_3 sends at-replies in response to tweets that include the phrase, "Beetlejuice, beetlejuice, beetlejuice." The tweets are sent in the voice of the lead character from the Beetlejuice film.
@chatmundo is an AI conversational Twitter bot based on Program O which responds to @chatmundo mentions.
@choose_this sends at-replies to Twitter users who tweet about making a choice between a wide variety of things.
@CongressEdits and @parliamentedits posts whenever someone makes edits to Wikipedia from the US Congress and UK Parliament IP addresses, respectively.
@DeepDrumpf is a recurrent neural network, created at MIT, that releases tweets imitating Donald Trump's speech patterns. It received its namesake from the term 'Donald Drumpf', popularized in the segment 'Donald Trump' from the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
@DroptheIBot tweets the message, "People aren't illegal. Try saying ‘undocumented immigrant’ or ‘unauthorized immigrant’ instead" to Twitter users who have sent a tweet containing the phrase ‘illegal immigrant’. It was created by American Fusion.net journalists Jorge Rivas and Patrick Hogan.
@everyword has tweeted every word of the English language. It started in 2008 and tweeted every thirty minutes until 2014.
@factbot1 was created by Eric Drass to illustrate what he believed to be a prevalent problem: that of people on the internet believing unsupported facts which accompany pictures.
@Horse ebooks is a bot that has gained a following among people who found its tweets poetic. It has inspired various _ebooks-suffixed Twitter bots which use Markov text generators (or similar techniques) to create new tweets by mashing up the tweets of their owner.
@KookyScrit sends auto-reply tweets correcting misspellings of the word "weird."
@MetaphorMagnet is an AI bot that generates metaphorical insights using its knowledge-base of stereotypical properties and norms. A companion bot @MetaphorMirror pairs these metaphors to news tweets. Another companion bot @BestOfBotWorlds uses metaphor to generate faux-religious insights.
@Pentametron finds tweets incidentally written in iambic pentameter using the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary, pairs them into couplets using a rhyming dictionary, and retweets them as couplets into followers' feeds.
@Tauntbot replies to anyone who mentions it with a randomly generated, verbose insult. It also periodically tweets random taunts at nobody in particular.
@Wikipediafinds "tweets dozens of things that could have their own Wikipedia article if our consciousness could catalogue them," according to Paste Magazine. It is run by Ayako S, a mysterious girl and former lover of Dylan Anaya, who ran @Wikifinds (which was banned by Twitter and Wikipedia.) She claims to live alone under constant surveillance by the police somewhere in South Korea.
- Jason Kincaid (January 22, 2010). "All Your Twitter Bot Needs Is Love". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Kashmir Hill (August 9, 2012). "The Invasion of the Twitter Bots". Forbes. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Dubbin, Rob. "The Rise of Twitter Bots". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Martin Bryant (August 11, 2009). "12 weird and wonderful Twitter Retweet Bots". TNW. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Christine Erickson (July 22, 2012). "Don't Block These 10 Hilarious Twitter Bots". Mashable. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- David Daw (October 23, 2011). "10 Twitter Bot Services to Simplify Your Life". PCWorld. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Chu, Zi; Gianvecchio, Steven; Wang, Haining; Jajodia, Sushil (2012). "Detecting Automation of Twitter Accounts: Are You a Human, Bot, or Cyborg?" (PDF). IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing (IEEE) 9 (6). doi:10.1109/TDSC.2012.75. ISSN 1545-5971. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- Cashmore, Pete. "Twitter Zombies: 24% of Tweets Created by Bots". Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- "Twitter autoreply bot - DBZNappa". dan.cx. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- "It's Over 9000!". Know Your Meme. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- "The 8 best Twitter bots you aren’t following". Digital Trends. 2013-08-02. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
- "Twitter Chatbot by Program O". Program O. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Gallagher, Brenden. "The 25 Most Ridiculous Twitterbots". ComplexTech. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Mosendz, Polly. "Congressional IP Address Blocked from Making Edits to Wikipedia". Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- Protalinski, Emil. "Dear Assistant: A Twitter bot that uses Wolfram Alpha to answer your burning questions". The Next Web, Inc. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- Bonnie Burton (4 March 2016). "Drumpf Twitterbot learns to imitate Trump via deep-learning algorithm". CNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- Judah, Sam; Ajala, Hannah (3 August 2015). "The Twitter bot that 'corrects' people who say 'illegal immigrant'". BBC Online. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- "100 Best Earthquake Twitter Bots".
- Farrier, John. "Twitter Bot Pranks Gullible People with Hilariously Fake Facts". NeatoCMS. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
- Adrian Chen (23 February 2012). "How I Found the Human Being Behind Horse_ebooks, The Internet’s Favorite Spambot". Gawker. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "Rise of the Twitterbot: A Modern Language App for Good and Evil". Listen & Learn. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- Veale, Tony (2015). Game of Tropes: : Exploring the Placebo Effect in Computational Creativity. (PDF). ICCC-2015: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Computational Creativity. Park City, Utah.
- Max Read (30 April 2012). "Weird Internets: The Amazing Found-on-Twitter Sonnets of Pentametron". Gawker. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- "This is @tauntbot, a Twitter bot that will mercilessly insult you". Fusion. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- "10 Weird Twitter Beings Worth a Follow". pastemagazine.com.