Bots as Active News Promoters: A Digital Analysis of COVID-19 Tweets

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Faculty/Staff
Final version published as: 

Al-Rawi, A., & Shukla, V. (2020). Bots as Active News Promoters: A Digital Analysis of COVID-19 Tweets. Information, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/info11100461.

Date created: 
2020-09-27
Identifier: 
DOI: 10.3390/info11100461
Keywords: 
Bots
COVID-19
Twitter
Social media
Health communication
Abstract: 

In this study, we examined the activities of automated social media accounts or bots that tweet or retweet referencing #COVID-19 and #COVID19. From a total sample of over 50 million tweets, we used a mixed method to extract more than 185,000 messages posted by 127 bots. Our findings show that the majority of these bots tweet, retweet and mention mainstream media outlets, promote health protection and telemedicine, and disseminate breaking news on the number of casualties and deaths caused by COVID-19. We argue that some of these bots are motivated by financial incentives, while other bots actively support the survivalist movement by emphasizing the need to prepare for the pandemic and learn survival skills. We only found a few bots that showed some suspicious activity probably due to the fact that our dataset was limited to two hashtags often used by official health bodies and academic communities.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Article
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