Inspired by the Technology Review article, How Advanced Social bots Have Infiltrated Twitter, I thought it would be an interesting to see how difficult it is to write a bot to generate followers over a given topic.

I think a first basic start would be to post proven social content from other sources (namely reddit.com). Version one of the bot will just repost the top article of the day on a given sub-reddit onto this twitter account. Lets get started.

Import the gems

First I need to create my Gemfile and reference these gems:

source 'https://rubygems.org'

gem 'twitter'
gem 'redditkit'#, :git => 'https://github.com/samsymons/RedditKit.rb.git'
gem 'redis'

There are a number of reddit gems, but I found that redditkit seems to be the most maintained.

Redis will be used as our data store to prevent duplicate tweets.

Twitter Bot code

```ruby twitter_bot.rb require ‘twitter’ require ‘redditkit’ require ‘redis’ require “open-uri”

KARMA_THRESHOLD=2000

First we need to require all of the resources.  Unfortunately these are not automatically loaded like they are in rails.  I set the KARMA_THRESHOLD to a score of 2000, so that we only share quality content.  `open-uri` will be used with the image upload.  If you upload the image as opposed to sharing the link, the photo will appear in the stream, thus giving it more exposure.

```ruby twitter_bot.rb
ENV["REDISCLOUD_URL"] ||= "redis://localhost:6379/"

if ENV["REDISCLOUD_URL"]
    uri = URI.parse(ENV["REDISCLOUD_URL"])
    $redis = Redis.new(:host => uri.host, :port => uri.port, :password => uri.password)
end

Since I am hosting this with Heroku, I need to set a default environment variable for the rediscloud_url which is set by the Redis cloud addin

Next I configure the twitter gem with the API keys I got from their website

```ruby twitter_bot.rb client = Twitter::REST::Client.new do |config| config.consumer_key = “” config.consumer_secret = “” config.access_token = “” config.access_token_secret = “” end

authenticated_client = RedditKit::Client.new ‘’, ‘’ posts = authenticated_client.links ‘all’, :category => :top, time: :hour ``` I also login to my reddit account and retrieve the links for the sub-reddit of my choice.

```ruby twitter_bot.rb posts.results.each do |link| if (link.score > KARMA_THRESHOLD && (link[:domain] == “imgur.com” || link[:domain] == “i.imgur.com”)) && !($redis.get(‘link:’+link.id)) && !(link.title.include? “r/”)

if link.url.include? "i.imgur"
  image_url = link.url
else
  image_url = link.url.gsub(/http:\/\//, 'http://i.') + ".jpg"
end
   
File.open('cringe.png', 'wb') do |fo|
  fo.write open(image_url).read
end

$redis.set('link:'+link.id, true)

client.update_with_media(link.title + " #LOL ", File.new('cringe.png'))
break   end end ``` I want to only select links with a high enough karma score, with an imgur image, and not in my redis store and not referencing another reddit thread.  I don't want them to include any reddit references in my tweets if I can help it.

Sometimes people post a link to the imgur page instead of directly to the link, so I need to change up the image_url as necessary depending on whether or not they did so.

Next I download the image so I can re-upload it to twitter later. Next I create the token in my redis store so I don’t accidently have any duplicate image links. I check against that in the if statement above.

Now I update my twitter feed with the link title, a hash tag, and the new image I just downloaded. Because I am running this on Heroku, the image saved to disk will get lost when the dyno gets killed with the scheduler ends. So I don’t really need to worry about clean up.

I want this to only run once, because twitter will get upset if they notice that fire off tweets in bursts. I think once per day is a good starting ground and I can move up the frequency, as I get more and more brave.

Deploy to Heroku

I need to make this a git repo, add my code so far.

git init
git add .
git commit -m "first twitter bot commit!"

Now I need to make the Heroku application to run this under and push it up to the server console heroku apps:create twitter-bot git push heroku master

Heroku Scheduler

Heroku comes with a free scheduler that I can run in daily increments, perfect for this application. I set configure it so it runs ruby twitter_bot.rb every day at midnight, so users will be able to see my tweets in the morning when they wake up.

In the future….

I plan on adding more content sources and more frequent posts. I am running this along side the chrome extension Followr, which is an automated tool for favoriting tweets of other users based on preset hash tags. So far it has earned me 10 new followers and 3 new re-tweets.