Social Media Bots

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Social Media Bots by Mind Map: Social Media Bots

1. What are botnets and what do they do?

1.1. 2009 Business Week article "Hacking for Dummies" explains how hackers used botnets by renting computers (that they would control remotely) to make denial of service attacks

1.2. Often networks of automated social media accounts that are programmed to interact with each other and boost content by liking, commenting, and reposting

1.2.1. 2017 Daily Beast article discusses one man's experience purchasing control of a botnet I Bought a Russian Bot Army for Under $100

1.3. Were used to amplify political messages in 2016 election cycle

1.4. How many bots are networked together on Twitter?

1.4.1. Echeverria and Zhou found the Star Wars botnet - dormant and 350,000 strong - and another, even bigger botnet they call Bursty, with 500,000 bots https://arxiv.org/abs/1709.06740

1.4.1.1. Cybersecurity experts uncover dormant botnet of 350,000 Twitter accounts

2. What are the potential dangers/negative effects of bots?

2.1. Who is affected by bots?

2.1.1. Users of that social media platform

2.1.1.1. Potential social ripple effect if users are sharing misinformation produced and/or amplified by bots

2.2. Fake engagement can threaten the value of genuine engagement

2.3. Can be difficult to tell if an account is a bot or not

2.4. Can amplify hateful messages

2.5. Can amplify misinformation and conspiracy theories, making it harder for people to know what is true

3. Who creates bots?

3.1. People!

3.1.1. Why?

3.1.1.1. Variety of reasons. This article describes a man who uses bots to make money by providing a sort of marketing service to his customers but liking Instagram posts to increase their spread. Real People Are Turning Their Accounts Into Bots On Instagram — And Cashing In

3.1.1.2. Political motivations - this article describes bots that spread politically biased misinformation on facebook This Former Tea Party Activist Is Teaching People To Spot Fake News

3.1.1.3. Entertainment, art, comedy, monitoring wikipedia edits - many different kinds of bots are discussed in this NYMag listicle 12 Weird, Excellent Twitter Bots Chosen by Twitter’s Best Bot-Makers

3.1.1.4. hackers create bots to phish for usernames and passwords

3.2. Institutions

3.2.1. Metropolitan Museum of Art uses a bot to post random images of items in their collections Museum Bot on Twitter

4. What are they?

4.1. Automated accounts

4.1.1. "...automated accounts capable of posting content or interacting with other users with no direct human involvement..." Bots in the Twittersphere

4.1.1.1. note that this study focuses only on twitter

4.1.2. There are different kinds - some are fully automated and others are partially managed directly by humans and partially automated.

5. How can you tell if an account is a bot?

5.1. Programs & tools

5.1.1. Hoaxy to "visualize the spread of claims and fact checking" Hoaxy: How claims spread online

5.1.2. Detect and Track Political Bots on Twitter

5.1.3. Botometer by OSoMe

5.2. Some things to look for

5.2.1. Patterns in posting

5.2.1.1. Content

5.2.1.2. Time of day

5.2.1.3. Only reposts, no original content

5.2.1.4. Volume of posts

5.2.2. Profile image

5.2.2.1. uses default avatar

5.2.2.2. Uses stolen image or stock photo

5.2.2.2.1. Do reverse Google Image search

5.2.3. Age of account

5.2.4. Network of followers

5.2.4.1. What accounts does this account engage with?

6. What are the potential benefits of bots?

6.1. Expand audience reach

6.2. Reduce workload for social media/marketing team

6.3. Can create interesting, funny, and/or aesthetically pleasing content

7. On which social media platforms do you find bots?

7.1. Twitter seems to be the biggest platform for bots

7.2. Facebook

7.3. Instagram

7.4. Dating sites and apps

7.5. Also found outside of social media - e.g. chat help, games,

8. When did social media bots originate?

8.1. 2011 Forbes article discussing botnet attacks on facebook Researchers Show How Easy It Is To Infiltrate Facebook