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Twitter Bots: The Number One Reason for Viral Content


Automated bots co-exist with us on the Twitter platform.

But what many don’t know is the extent these bots can go to create tweets without any human interference.

A whopping two-thirds of tweets, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center emerge from automated bot accounts.

The Findings:

  1. Bots tweet 89% of the links posted to aggregation sites which further link to external sites.
  2. 57% links tweeted to external news are generated by bots.
  3. 90% of all adult sites links found on Twitter are posted by bots, and
  4. For sports links, 76% are tweeted and retweeted by bots.


Some Happy Twitter Bots:

  1. Netflix Bot (@netflix_bot). The official Twitter handle of Netflix notifies about any new streaming content bring added instantly.
  2. The CNN Breaking News Bot (@attention_cnn) is no way connected to the actual network handle @CNN. It acts as an unofficial guide that alerts you about breaking news whenever CNN broadcasts a flash news feature.
  3. PowerPost by the Washington Post (@PowerPost is an automated bot sending out tweets about decision making in Washington.
  4. @NYT4thDownBot and @museumbot are some other famous Twitter handles which post about live NFL updates and images from Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  5. @_grammar_ is grammar identifies incorrect grammar in tweets and suggests proper usage of the language.


Pew Research study made used of Botometer, a machine learning tool developed by researchers at the Indiana University Network Science Institute to determine whether an account is an automated one or a genuine one.

For this particular study, 1.2 million English language tweets posted during six-week duration in the summer of 2017 were researched.

In Conclusion

For content to go viral, there has to be a series of shares. This is where the use of automated bots step in. They are the first to move in publicizing content.

The study also focused on 358 websites out of the listed 2315 websites which have political headlines or news sites. Most of the political links that bots have made viral are of centrist ideology. There is no evidence suggesting a political bias, for now, that is.

But there is a probability that they can be used for spreading falsified information or entirely changing human perceptions regarding a variety of issues.

There is no doubt the pervasive effect bots have on social media. Though it is too early to predict the cultural impact bots can have on the internet users the above numbers illustrate the capability of bots to manipulate data.