Three socialbots recently integrated themselves into a group of Twitter users, gained more than 250 followers, and received more than 240 responses to the tweets they sent over a two-week period as part of Socialbots 2011, a competition designed to test whether bots can be used to change the structure of a social network.
The bots were rewarded for the number of followers they obtained and the number of responses their tweets resulted in. The socialbots analyzed tweets sent by members of the network who shared a particular interest and then created a suitable response. The best-peforming bot gained more than 100 followers and generated about 200 responses.
Socialbots 2011 organizer Tim Hwang says the bots were "able to heavily shape and distort the structure of the network. We could use these bots in the future to encourage social participation or support for humanitarian causes."
Hwang has already planned the next socialbot project. "We're going to survey and identify two sites of 5,000-person unconnected Twitter communities, and over a six- to 12-month period use waves of bots to thread and rivet those clusters together into a directly connected social bridge between those two formerly independent groups," he says.
From New Scientist
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