I Created a Twitter Bot that Replaced Donald Trump with The Next Hitler. Here’s How People Responded

A month ago, I got completely flustered by the Donald Trump issue on the GOP side of American politics. Here a complete asshole was standing on a podium, calling dissenting attendees fat welfare recipients and saying they should be roughed up, and proposing that we should keep people out of our country on the basis of religion and Mexicanness. This asshole had to be lampooned and skewered as heavily as humanly possible.

So I wrote up a quick Twitter bot. That’s something I (and thousands of other people) do from time to time. My bot’s premise was simple:

  • Search Twitter for Tweets that match the search ‘(endorses OR supports OR “is voting for” OR loves OR wants) “donald trump” ’ and have links
  • Change all references to Donald Trump into “the next Hitler”
  • Mute mentions to other accounts by changing “@” to “.” (Twitter is not fond of bots mentioning other accounts)
  • Post the transformed Tweet

And the results come out looking like this (say it ain’t so, Kenny!):

So over Thanksgiving week I put events in motion, and set my bot to post every 15 minutes in perpetuity. Right off the bat I got this gem from a “Patriot,2nd amendment,animal lover,Big Suurpporter Of Our Military&Vets,love hockey & heavy metal,do Metal not Meth, Don’t Tread On Me” (reading the bio is important to avoid Poe’s Law implications).

Some terrorists live in countries that are bordered by water, yes. But so do you.

And this one from someone who obviously missed that the bot had made all of three Tweets.

This is an egregious case of political dick-waving and it exposes just how bad the discourse tends to be. It didn’t get much better from there, either. The next day, in fact, this one came up when my bot mentioned that the continuation/expansion of Bush-era torture that Trump was promoting was still a violation of the Geneva convention:

This is factually wrong. Waterboarding is torture and is codified as such in US law, and was included in the 1929 Geneva Convention when the US signed on to it. The fact that the Bush administration wrote differing opinions and instructed the CIA to use it does not change the fact that it’s officially illegal and considered torture, both domestically and internationally.

The merely clueless tweets have continued.

No, Obama does not want you to spy on your neighbors this holiday season
OK, but there’s a difference between reporting suspicious activity, and reporting people you don’t like
You’re not listening, Mike
Doesn’t matter how many. This kind of zealotry isn’t compatible with the freedom of religion clause
Torture doesn’t work, in addition to being illegal and immoral.
In response to the comic going around comparing Jewish refugees from the ’30s to Muslim ones now.
He = Jeb’s biggest donor. This seems to be from a campaign similar to mine, though mine is better.
No, ISIS is counting on refugees not being welcomed by the West. We are not at war with people fleeing them.
You might want to check your poll numbers. Support for Trump is significantly less than half.
No. You’re really not paying attention.
I can trump that with the two of clubs, it’s so weak.
These are the callers who get screened out by Coast to Coast AM
Well, yes. Bots come fully formed out of the womb and can study American politics at age 1 month
So Tyson’s followers are automatically Trump’s followers? O…kay?
And every single one of them is as dumb as Sarah Palin
Not remotely true. Since 2011 Mexico has decriminalized illegal immigration. The max fine is 100 hours’ minimum wage.

Also I must give a shout-out to the benignly clueless. These people were on the right side of common sense but didn’t pick up on the fact that an account clearly labeled “Trump Godwin Bot” was a bot and nobody was listening on the other end. I noticed a thread in these that they often came from Ted Cruz supporters.

In Jim’s world, “our next president” is Cruz
Points for not actually calling Obama a fascist.
Did that pastor ever fall into the ditch pass it on?
Me too, brah.
Yes, turning off the Internet is very bad for business, and no, Bill Gates will not do it.
When you have billions, paying for a wall to keep Mexicans out must seem like a good investment
This one exposed that I probably should have done something about Tweets that said “I am voting for…”
Mostly yes. But really, there’s already confusion. Demagoguery breeds it.

Then there were also the people who still weren’t really keyed into the idea that this account was a bot and not a person’s general account, but didn’t have much sway one way or the other.

Idiocy is more like firefly light. Everyone who has it will show it when someone else does.
Well that’s the whole purpose of Twitter, right?
To be fair, a reference to Marcos got vacuumed into the system here.
Really who cares?

And some people showed that they were in on the joke.

May I live a thousand lives and never utter a single heil
I smile every time I see this one
Damn right.

Others showed that they knew it was a bot but still decided to hurl abuse anyway.

Ha, that’s funny that you think punks are sissies. Rollins would put you in the hospital.

Finally there were the troll jobs. Most were one-off insults.

Wow, you’re a bot! You must not get a lot of sex!
Man why you even got to do a thing

But then there always has to be that one gasbag. It’s incredible how much effort this gasbag put into arguing with something that doesn’t argue. This is why honeypots exist: They divert the labor done in bad faith to a place where it has no impact.

First comes the pedantic “Trump can’t be Hitler because he’s not anti-Semitic” which completely misses the point that the new scapegoat is Muslims and not Jews.

Hitler had Winterhilfswerk too — that didn’t absolve the evil deeds

And then the tempest in a teacup starts.

“Know” is the wrong word. More like “mistakenly believe.”
Dude, Halloween was last month
As of mid-October Trump has more outside campaign donations than self-funding. So this is wrong.
The easiest way to do that is to make legal entry easier
Sarcasm =You’re rapidly losing an argument with a bot.
2000 tweets later… bot is still talking

Finally the gasbag sent five copies of this Tweet before giving up.

You know Spock also said this, right? It’s a central tenet of Utilitarian philosophy.

In conclusion, bots are cool because they make uninformed people talk at the void rather than inconveniencing others. As of this writing, @godwin_bot is still running, and I’ll probably keep running it until the next Hitler is out of the race or Twitter completely bans it. So follow if you like, and reply if you want. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, I won’t likely chronicle the loonybag replies coming out of it again unless they get really good.

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