Bot comes from robot – the English word for robot. Social bots are virtual user accounts in social networks such as Facebook or YouTube. They are programmed to perform certain activities, e.g., to post many likes or comments or to respond to certain keywords with pre-programmed texts. Social bots are used to create attention for certain topics so that media report on them and the public talks about them. These bots are also used for advertising and marketing purposes (spam) and for spreading political opinions, false news and hate messages. In this way, they are supposed to influence the opinion of real users and users. If a piece of information is clicked on or shared particularly frequently on the Internet, it is possible that social bots and not real users are behind it.
Most of the time, social bots have neither a profile picture nor personal posts in their profile. Instead, they often post on the same topic. Their language is often flawed and consists of repetitive words. They do not address responses to comments or complex questions.