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This article was published on June 8, 2018

A bunch of ‘art bots’ got swept up in Twitter’s political crackdown

A bunch of ‘art bots’ got swept up in Twitter’s political crackdown
Tristan Greene
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Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

The ‘art bot’ community on Twitter is still recovering from a platform ban that saw dozens of bot-powered accounts go silent for approximately 11 hours on Wednesday.

What happened: The bots, including popular accounts like @infinite_scream (which has 43.3k followers) and @tinycarebot (which boasts 125k), went down after Twitter banned the platform they run on.

The owner of the platform, George Buckenham, had no idea the ban was coming. According to a report from Slatehe wasn’t initially given a reason for a ban but several bots on the platform were allegedly engaging in “hashtag spam,” and have since been booted from Cheap Bots, Done Quick. He told Slate:

There’s actually a really blurry line between stuff that’s artistic or creative or stuff that amuses people, or stuff that’s just people messing around with it, playing with it, stuff that people are doing that ends up being kind of self-promotional, and stuff that ends up being actual spam.

Not all bots are bad: Twitter recently decided it would crack the whip on bots. In efforts to clear its platform of bots that spam tweets, likes, and shares across multiple account for the purpose of influencing political opinions. It seems the social media company took things a step too far.

Luckily, the ban was lifted Thursday, and the bots powered back up to do what they do best.

Whether a Twitter account powered by a bot that endlessly tweets out screams, the buzzing of bees, or self-care advice is art remains up to the individual. But we think there’s definitely a place in the world for bots that exist to provide contrast, as opposed to influence.

Honestly, @infinite_scream may be the most honest political voice in all of social media. We’re glad Twitter saw the error of its ways and unbanned Buckenham’s platform.

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