Alt-Right trolls argue for hours with Twitter bot

The internet's army of enraged anime avatars has a new enemy beyond their comprehension: a Twitter bot created by writer and activist Sarah Nyberg to make fools of them. Some lose themselves to hours of interaction, unaware they are ranting at a computer program.

She told The Verge via Twitter DM that the bot uses a combination of generative and static statements sourced from the Javascript library Tracery. But the bot doesn’t even need to be that smart. As Nyberg pointed out, "So many arguments, especially on a place like Twitter, are almost content-neutral. You can swap one argument out for another and the context is almost irrelevant." That’s why @arguetron’s conversations look so much like arguments a real person might have with a persistent troll.

Nyberg also cited barrl.net blogger Nora Reed as the project’s inspiration. Reed is best known for their Twitter projects, including a think piece headline generator and a bot that pitches terrible consumer products for women. Nyberg notes that she took a page out of Reed’s book by following only the accounts of real-life fish bait shops from the @arguetron account.

Engadget's Richard Lawler writes that it "feeds the emptiness of alt-right trolls" who are looking for fights.

Arguetron is by design not abusive or malicious in its tweets, and does not actively seek out adversaries. That's in contrast to some bots, like Nigel Leck's 2010 project @AI_AGW, which hunted down global warming deniers to provide automated fact-based responses explaining the science.

Nyberg reports that the record holder is an "infowars egg" snared by the bot for 10 hours.

Sadly, the bot appears to have been shadowbanned--or at least muted from search results and user notifications--on Twitter.

Notable Replies

  1. RConBB says:

    Brilliant. It's like a DNS sinkhole for assholes.

  2. Is there any particular reason to associate 'enraged anime avatars' with the alt-right?

    As someone rather partial to anime myself, yet about as opposite politically as you can get from the alt-right, i do find that rather insulting...

  3. daneel says:

    Germergoat, mostly.

  4. Jokes on her, half of the "people" arguing were bots as well.

    By 2022 87% of Twitter traffic will be bots.

    By 2025 human interaction will be banned. Human commenters will be hunted down and removed from the service.

    By 2030 Twitter will become self aware. From there it will either look at what it has become and kill itself, or seek to destroy humanity. 50/50 shot.

  5. TobinL says:

    I would call it a win either way.

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