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Emergent local structures in an ecosystem of social bots and humans on Twitter

Bots in online social networks can be used for good or bad but their presence is unavoidable and will increase in the future.

To investigate how the interaction networks of bots and humans evolve, we created six social bots on Twitter with AI language models and let them carry out standard user operations.

Three different strategies were implemented for the bots: a trend-targeting strategy (TTS), a keywords-targeting strategy (KTS) and a user-targeting strategy (UTS). We examined the interaction patterns such as targeting users, spreading messages, propagating relationships, and engagement.

We focused on the emergent local structures or motifs and found that the strategies of the social bots had a significant impact on them. Motifs resulting from interactions with bots following TTS or KTS are simple and show significant overlap, while those resulting from interactions with UTS-governed bots lead to more complex motifs.

These findings provide insights into human-bot interaction patterns in online social networks, and can be used to develop more effective bots for beneficial tasks and to combat malicious actors.

A. Alrhmoun, J. Kertész, Emergent local structures in an ecosystem of social bots and humans on Twitter, EPJ Data Science 12 (2023) 39.

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