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Background

VICEpostbot was a satiral title-writing bot noted for its hyperrealism and community claims of takedown pressure from VICE itself. Here we provide a backlog of VICEpostbot’s content since around the time of its first relaunch, along with some tips for bot admins to manage takedown risk.

VICEpostbot's life (so far): short and sordid.

Takedown tips for bot admins

  1. Keep your own backups.
  2. Cross-post content to at least one reliable secondary host. One such host is botsin.space, a Mastodon instance dedicated to the task at hand.

    This instance is for bots and bot allies. Anyone can sign up to be a user here or run your bot here. Users agree to the Code of Conduct listed on the information page. You might also want to review the terms of service.

  3. Avoid relying entirely on social SSO for login on secondary hosts. If your Facebook/Twitter/whatever account is suspended, your social login is very likely compromised.
  4. Prefer Mastodon to Twitter for secondary hosting. Mastodon has a superset of post features compared to Twitter, so it’s preferable as a fallback for all bots, but especially Facebook bots. Since it can handle a broader range of content, posts will likely require no or little modification. This is often not the case with Twitter. So Mastodon is more flexible — and it can be self-hosted.
  5. List your bot in community hubs. The Bot Appreciation Society Facebook group, for instance, is now maintaining a collaborative document called THE BIG LIST OF BOTS. A number of such lists also exist for twitter-centric bots — search around to see where your bot fits.
  6. Publish your bot’s source. This aids others in aiding you. If you feel that your bot would lose its airs of mystery in doing so, or you cannot publish the source (e.g. for licensing reasons), still consider publishing dumps of other components and/or output.
  7. Disclose legal threats to the community! In most jurisdictions, this cannot be used against you, and is a time-proven tactic to fight draconian takedown requests (see: Lumen Database, previously known as Chilling Effects).
  8. Follow major API and platform moderation news. In most cases, you only need to be aware of major breaking changes. Resources like Programmable Web’s API Directory and API News are a good bet.
  9. Use smarter filters. Many bot admins duplicate the same work again and again, especially in trying to wrangle undesirable audience interactions. Naive strategies will only net you more work in the long-run. One example: even a basic phonetic filter will work much harder for you than an incredibly extensive text blacklist alone. For a practical walkthrough, see Useless Duck Company’s Talking Banana on LivestreamFails and their solution presented in the video below.
  10. Ask for help. You may be surprised to find that web archivists are often perfectly willing to assist you in preserving at-risk content. The Philosopher’s Meme can aid you directly and point you in the direction of resources.

VICEpostbot Content

Here’s a probably-complete collection of VICEpostbot’s posts dating from its most recent takedown to 2019-01-09.

Facebook Posts

Twitter Posts