On manual bots and being human on Twitter

Authored by: Amy Johnson

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Media

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138917415
eBook ISBN: 9781315689036
Adobe ISBN:


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Bots, or automated software agents, have long been a widely recognized account type on Twitter. Some Japanese-language users – direct, human users – intentionally adopt this bot category, declaring their accounts manual or semi-automated bots. This chapter examines the characteristic traits and social expectations associated with (automated) bots that make the category appealing for human use. Drawing on examples of manual bots used for political critique and for carnivalesque play, the chapter argues that, among other things, the ambiguous accountability, predictability, and nonhumanness of the bot category help people navigate the challenges of being human in machine-shaped social spaces.

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