Abstract: In this article, we present results on the identification and behavioral analysis of social bots in a sample of 542,584 Tweets, collected before and after Japan’s 2014 general election. Typical forms of bot activity include massive Retweeting and repeated posting of (nearly) the same message, sometimes used in combination. We focus on the second method and present (1) a case study on several patterns of bot activity, (2) methodological considerations on the automatic identification of such patterns and the prerequisite near-duplicate detection, and (3) we give qualitative insights into the purposes behind the usage of social/political bots. We argue that it was in the latency of the semi-public sphere of social media—and not in the visible or manifest public sphere (official campaign platform, mass media)—where Shinzo Abe’s hidden nationalist agenda interlocked and overlapped with the one propagated by organizations such as Nippon Kaigi and Internet right-wingers (netto uyo) during the election campaign, the latter potentially forming an enormous online support army of Abe’s agenda.

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Schäfer, F., Evert, S. and P. Heinrich. (2017). Japan’s 2014 General Election: Political Bots, Right-Wing Internet Activism, and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s Hidden Nationalist Agenda. Big Data 5(4).

Note: This post was originally published on the Political Bots research blog on . It might have been updated since then in its original location. The post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.