Stick & Flow: A Critical Framework for Investigating Bot Engagement on Social Media
This research group studies the phenomenon of automated engagement on Instagram and Tumblr as an ensemble of software affordances, human interests and techniques of mediation. Using digital methods, media theory and internet ethnography, we argue that the study of social bots should consider three interconnected dimensions:
- the role of web or mobile applications,
- the shifts in societal concerns around bot ‘imagination’ or how users relate to #bots through tagging practices, and finally
- bot agency or what we can learn from detecting and studying visual and textual content provided by social bot accounts.
In order to account for implications and challenges of social automation for the understanding of digital society, we propose a network perspective on the ephemeral dynamics of “stick and flow” that constitute the ways in which bots operate on social media platforms and beyond.