“Life never matters in the DEMOCRATS MIND”:Examining Strategies of Retweeted Social Bots During a Mass Shooting Event

Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Computers and Society


This exploratory study examines the strategies of social bots on Twitter that were retweeted following a mass shooting event. Using a case study method to frame our work, we collected over seven million tweets during a one-month period following a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. From this dataset, we selected retweets of content generated by over 400 social bot accounts to determine what strategies these bots were using and the effectiveness of these strategies as indicated by the number of retweets. We employed qualitative and quantitative methods to capture both macro- and micro-level perspectives. Our findings suggest that bots engage in more diverse strategies than solely waging disinformation campaigns, including baiting and sharing information. Further, we found that while bots amplify conversation about mass shootings, humans were primarily responsible for disseminating bot-generated content. These findings add depth to the current understanding of bot strategies and their effectiveness. Understanding these strategies can inform efforts to combat dubious information as well as more insidious disinformation campaigns.