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Lode
Dijkers

Antidepress Bots

Project details

Year
2021
Programme
Advertising & Beyond
Practices
Autonomous
Minor
Critical Studies

Antidepress Bots is an activistic system of social media bots that distorts the algorithm’s ability to push depressive content to depressed people.

The bots are displayed on a website which functions as a terminal, so their activity can be viewed live.

Social media algorithms decide what posts we see when we log onto their platform. These systems are called recommendation algorithms. They observe what content a user interacts with so that personalised posts are pushed to their feed. The algorithm makes categories of people, and works along the lines of; people similar to you also liked …

However, the algorithms can’t tell what content is good or bad for us. So when depressed people interact with depressive content, the algorithm will lump these users together and exchange the morbid content to other depressed users. This dark online echo chamber is called the depressive filter bubble.

Social media bots are computerised fake users that can behave in any pre-programmed way. They can follow accounts, like posts and comment. Antidepress Bots forces these fake users in the depressive filter bubble by having them follow many depressive accounts, but lets them interact with positive content. This confuses the algorithm into pushing this positive content to users in the depressive filter bubble.

Infographic showing how Antidepress Bots replace depressive images on a user’s feed with images of clear blue skies.

The bots interact with images of clear blue skies as a universal symbol of happiness to oppose the depressive content. Besides the peaceful imagery, blue light is also used as a prevention method in places with high suicide rates. More running Antidepress Bots will mean a greater effect of positive distortion. This is why the code of the project is open-source; anyone is encouraged to download the bots and help relieve depressed social media users world-wide. It is a collective activist stance against the algorithms that negatively influence us.

A still from the Antidepress Bots website.
An Antidepress Bot liking an image of a blue sky on Instagram.