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Tim Culpan

Twitter Wants You to Build a Bot. So I Did

They’re powerful, but not evil. Bots just need to be better understood.

Build it, and they will come.

Build it, and they will come.

Photographer: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

For all the controversy about bots on Twitter, stoked most recently by Elon Musk’s aborted acquisition plans, it would seem reasonable to expect the company to close access to the platform and shy away from automation. Twitter Inc. is doing just the opposite, instead encouraging people to tap into its vast and open repository of data and build software around it.

In fact, it has a tutorial online — How to create a Twitter bot with v2 of the Twitter API — that walks you through the process step by step. So that’s what Bloomberg Opinion did. We successfully ran an automated account that retweeted trends, garnered a few dozen followers, and attracted thousands of visitors. This is what we learned about the process, and how interaction works on Twitter when an automated system is in charge.