My Failed Attempt at Fighting ISIS with Twitter Bots.

My Failed Attempt at Fighting ISIS with Twitter Bots.

When I was young, I became fascinated with the story of Stetson Kennedy.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 19.10.19

He is remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world.

In 1946, Kennedy provided information — including secret codewords and details of Klan rituals — to the writers of the Superman radio program, leading popular journalist Stephen J. Dubner andUniversity of Chicago economist Steven Levitt, in their 2005 book Freakonomics, to dub Kennedy “the greatest single contributor to the weakening of the Ku Klux Klan”.[8] The result was a series of 16 episodes in which Superman took on the Klan. Kennedy intended to strip away the Klan’s mystique; and the trivialization of the Klan’s rituals and codewords likely had a negative impact on Klan recruiting and membership.[9]

Stetson increased KKK churn rates with convincing Superman vs. KKK media. The result was children having poor perceptions of the KKK and their parents leaving the KKK.

I wanted to do something similar to ISIS using twitter bots as the medium.

Twitter Bot Mechanics.

I’m not going to outline the exacting methodology, the accounts used, links pointed to, or bring light to my awful arabic. What I will talk about is the process.

My goal was to sway the tide even by a centimeter.

If 100,000 people tweet Pro-ISIS, by using a twitter bot, can I convince some of them that ISIS has its issues and they should reconsider their views?

  1. KeyWord Analysis. The first step is to identify the bad guys who favorite, retweet, and tweet Pro-ISIS thoughts. This took me a considerable amount of time transliterating and translating between arabic and english using a dictionary of grammar. I began by looking up pro-ISIS twitter and tumblr accounts. M’arafshi Arabe. We’re looking for terms that emphasize the celebration of ISIS.
  2. Great Converting Content. The second step is to find killer content that is highly readable, accurate, and conveys the viewpoint that passes a logical litmus test. I spent time finding high fidelity articles that thoroughly describe what ISIS does to perfectly innocent people. I had a few requirements for these articles. I wanted them to have a high readability score(in arabic). The sole point of these articles is to be gutwrenching and make ISIS supporters reconsider the reality of what they were supporting. I also wanted the articles to have proper research and links throughout. I used BlogPostMetrics, an unsuccessful tool/venture I had launched with a friend earlier this year to count the number of shares of the anti-ISIS articles.
  3. Snipe Down the Followers, Favoriters, and Retweeters. The 3rd step is Tweet back to the users who do any of the previous actions as it relates to Pro-ISIS tweets. I used a link shortening service and tracked click throughs of links to the highly readable anti-ISIS articles.

I had multiple twitter accounts, articles, and responses.

5 twitter accounts
3 articles.
3 responses

= 45 unique tweets.

Total Tweets: 15324
Number of Clicks: 418

Conversion Rate is probably a low percentage of the 418 clicks.

In short, the experiment was a failure. The twitter accounts often received objectionable responses with death threats.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us——Gandalf.