Social bots

  • Type of event:

    Public expert discussion

  • Venue:

    Deutscher Bundestag, Konrad-Adenauer Str., 11011 Berlin
    Paul-Löbe-Haus, Raum E. 300

  • Date:


  • Time:

    14.30 - 17.00 

»Social bots« are computer programs that are designed to generate machine-generated posts (comments, responses, opinions) on social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, in order to influence or manipulate discourse. Fake accounts of "social bots", i.e. fake user profiles that are not backed by an authentic person, can be easily scaled by simple adjustments, so that, for example, thousands of accounts can be created on Twitter, which in turn generate tens of thousands of tweets per day. It is suspected, and in some cases proven, that »social bots« are being targeted by states as well as corporations and interest groups, and terrorist organizations.

The Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB), through its consortium partner VDI/VDE-IT, prepared an exploratory study on the social and political relevance of the topic of "social bots". The focus was on the investigation of dangers due to a possible manipulation of political discussions and trends in social networks.

The aim of the expert meeting was to discuss the status of the still ongoing investigation, to review the central interim results and to reflect on starting points for political action. Since the topic met with great media and political interest, the expert discussion also served to define the position of the phenomenon of "social bots". In the expert discussion, the initial situation was briefly introduced and the topic was discussed along three thematic blocks:

  1. Influence and effectiveness of "social bots": What is feasible today and how is influence demonstrated?
  2. Future uses of "social bots": What can "social bots" be used for in the future?
  3. Debunking systems and containment options: How can "social bots" be detected and prevented?

Further Information

Recording of the event