Serious concerns have been raised about the role of ‘socialbots’ in manipulating public opinion and influencing the outcome of elections by retweeting partisan content to increase its reach. But, what is the actual role of social bots and how do they contribute to retweet diffusions?
The study#DEBATENIGHT: The Role and Influence of Socialbots on Twitter During the 1st 2016 U.S. Presidential Debate has addressed these questions. Through the use of a large Twitter dataset provided by Uberlink and collected via the Twitter Firehose API, the authors analyzed user influence, political behavior and 'botness' implications during the 1st 2016 U.S presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The dataset includes all Twitter discussions and retweets authored during the debate and contains 6,498,818 tweets, emitted by 1,451,388 twitter users.
The research was presented at the 12th International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM), held on June 25-28, 2018 in Stanford, California. The study is the result of the combined work of researchers from the VOSON Lab, the Computational Media Lab in ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science and Data61 CSIRO.