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Bots of Conviction

A Twitter Bot Workshop at University of Mary Washington's DTLT, April 19, 2017


In 2014, Twitter admitted that as many as 23 million of its active users are bots. Here's your chance to join the ranks by building your own. But the focus of this workshop is building a specific kind of Twitter bot, one that Davidson College professor Mark Sample has called a "protest bot" -- "A computer program that reveals the injustice and inequality of the world and imagines alternatives."

This workshop will help you build a Twitter bot with a purpose -- something topical, something oppositional. We'll talk about data sources, ethics, and the politics of tech. No programming experience necessary.

The Ethics of Twitter Bots

In an era of "fake news" and dis- and misinformation easily disseminated by social media, what responsibilities do we have when creating Twitter bots? (More broadly, what are the ethics of all kinds of bots, of all sorts of automation?)

What do the politics of "bots of conviction" look like? Can they take on other bots? Should they confront those with differing politics?

How to Build a Bot

In this workshop we will walk through building a bot using Google Spreadsheets: You can copy the SSBot v0.4 spreadsheet by clicking this link: (Also available: SSBot v0.5) (Credit: Zach Whalen)

Other Tools for Twitter Bots

Famous (Twitter) Bots

Some Tips

  • You can create a special email address for your Twitter bot (so that it doesn't conflict with the email address you already us) if you use Gmail. Simply append the plus symbol (+) and a term to your Gmail address. e.g. The account will receive these emails as usual
  • To develop an app on Twitter, you will need to add a phone number to your Twitter account. If you only have one phone number (and who on earth would want more than one), you can delete it from one Twitter account and add it to the new one you are creating to build a bot
  • Twitter has a set of "Automation rules" if requires developers follow


Twitter Bot Workshop



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