Twitter is for Robots

Like most people, I've never been a big Twitter user. The firehose-style feed and tweet storms were always too overwhelming.

But around 6 months ago, I decided to try an experiment.

I wanted to see if I could grow my personal twitter following without actually using twitter.

I also wanted to do it for free and didn't want to resort to automated following tools or retweeters.

Here's what I did:

  1. Opened up IFTTT and browsed various connectors.
  2. Connected the RSS feed from a bunch of blogs I like, such as http://blog.samaltman.com/, to a free buffer account.
  3. Set up a few connectors to add people to lists if they tweeted hashtags I was interested in, such as #growth, #golang, and #datascience.

And voila! My twitter feed came alive with content.

I still occasionally log in to follow friends, reply to mentions or like / retweet the occasional work post, but otherwise, the thing drives itself.

I'm now up from a couple of hundred tweets and followers to over 1,000 of each.

If you scroll far enough through my feed, you'll probably start to notice that it largely posts from the same blogs and that my lists are unusually large. Yet in over 6 months, I've only received one complaint.

Naturally it came from a Go developer. They're a sharp bunch. You can follow him here: @dlsniper.

Overall this was an interesting experiment, which shows that with minimal effort, anyone can build a twitter bot. I'm sure that with a bit more effort, and some light coding, you could build something far more lifelike.

Therein lies the problem. If it's that easy to build a tweet bot, then Twitter is doomed to be taken over by bots.

I mean why not?

If you're a person, or especially a brand, who wants to be present on social media but doesn't want to put in the time and effort, a bot is the perfect solution.

On 7 June 2014, the first chat bot passed the Turing Test, meaning that the bot could communicate one-on-one with a person, and the person didn't know it was a bot.

This opens up a new world for robot communication on the internet.

It means that any time you communicate by text with an unknown person online, it may in fact, be a robot. Given that this type of communication is central to the Twitter experience, I think it may spell the end.

And possibly the end for Reddit, Hacker News, and virtually all internet forums.

Soon most text-based communication will be overrun by robots.

Pictures and video are obviously more difficult to automate, but it's only a matter of time.

Eventually most of the internet will be dominated by robots, and we humans will have to resort back to the old days of only communicating in person and with known friends.

Bots are eating the world.