The meaning of the word

The word ‘bot’ is increasingly being used as an insult on social media

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2024-06-10 16:30:07

The meaning of the word "bot" on Twitter/X seems to have shifted over time, with people originally using it to flag automated accounts, but now employing it to insult people they disagree with

Calling someone a bot on social media once meant you suspected they were actually a piece of software, but now the use of the word is shifting to become an insult to someone you know is human, say researchers.

Many efforts to detect social media bots use algorithms to try to identify patterns of behaviour that are more common in automated accounts controlled by computers, the traditional meaning of a bot, but their accuracy is questionable.

“Most recent research really focuses on the detection of social bots, which is problematic in itself because we have this ground truth problem,” says Dennis Assenmacher at Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences in Cologne, Germany, meaning we don’t know if detections are accurate.

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