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Twitter Bots Create Surprising New Social Connections

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A group of freelance Web researchers have created a Twitter bot, called a socialbot, that can fool users into thinking the bots are real people and serve as virtual social connector, accelerating the natural rate of human-to-human communication.

The system grew out of the Web Ecology Project, an independent research group focused on studying the structure of social media phenomena. Some of the Web Ecology Project researchers, led by Tim Hwang, created their own organization, called the Pacific Social Architecting Corp., to continue the development of socialbots.

In further experiments, the group tracked 2,700 Twitter users, divided into randomly assigned target groups of 300, over 54 days. The first 33 days served as a control period, during which no socialbots were deployed. Then, during the 21-day experimental period, nine bots were activated, one for each target group. On average, each bot gained 62 new followers and received 33 incoming tweets. The researchers also found that there was a 43 percent increase in human-to-human follows, after the socialbots were introduced, compared to the control period.

From Technology Review
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