Twitter Bot Experiment in Collaboration with Pro7/Galileo

Christian Grimme, Mike Preuss, and Lena Adam of the Information Systems branch of the PropStop project at WWU Muenster have carried out an experiment involving social bots together with a production team of the Galileo show at Pro7. Within 2 subsequent phases we wanted to test if we can establish a trend on Twitter, using only 30 Twitter bots and 2 weeks of time. The bots have been programmed in order not to reveal their bot identity and appear as human as possible. Therefore, they carefully issued posts and follows. At the end of the first phase, after a week, the bots were already followed back by around 1500 other Twitter users. In the second phase, they were meant to start a new trend by means of posting manually prepared tweets. Actually, one of the two supported hashtags appeared in the top 100 list of Twitter Germany trends. Several human users also reacted to the hashtag by adopting it or forwarding it to their followers. However, the bots failed to start a self-sustained movement. Nevertheless, the experiment itself has been an overall success. The bot classification web site BotOrNot rated our bots as AI-controlled with probabilities between 40 and 60%. The original Galileo report can be looked up here: (in German)