Do Social Bots Dream of Electric Sheep? A Categorisation of Social Media Bot Accounts

Stieglitz, Stefan; Brachten, Florian; Ross, Björn; Jung, Anna
ACIS 2017 Proceedings

As social media has permeated large parts of the population it simultaneously has become a way to reach these masses e.g. with political messages. One way to efficiently reach this goal is the application of automated computer programs that aim to simulate human behaviour – so called social bots. These bots are thought to be able to potentially influence users’ opinion about a topic. To gain insight in the use of these bots in the run-up to the German Bundestag elections, we collected a dataset from Twitter consisting of tweets regarding a German state election in May 2017. The strategies and influence of social bots were analysed based on relevant features and network visualization. 61 social bots were identified. Possibly due to barriers in language as well as the elections regionality, identified bots showed no signs of collective political strategies and low to none influence. Implications are discussed.