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 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 reallife 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. No word yet on what the company intends to do about the users calling it a kike.

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