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A socialbot is a type of bot that controls a social media account. Like all bots, a socialbot is automated software. The exact way a socialbot replicates depends on the social network, but unlike a regular bot, a socialbot spreads by convincing other users that the socialbot is a real person.
A socialbot is also known as social networking bot, or social bot.
If not malicious, most would at least argue that socialbots are unethical. After all, there whole point of social networking is for actual humans to connect. Whether or not a socialbot actually steals data or is just done for amusement of the creator, the fact of the matter is that a socialbot needs to trick a real user in order to spread. It's not as if they can draw on their real life connections and experiences!
Socialbots are most common in Twitter, though there also have been experiments with Facebook bots. Given the design of Twitter with short messages, re-tweeting, following etc., it's actually not too difficult for a socialbot to appear human.
Identity theft is a huge concern with socialbots, but what really differs from other forms of malware is the trust factor that exists in social networks. This can serve to help the socialbot spread, but also brings up questions as to whether a botnet of socialbots could influence external events. Imagine if a coordinate attack was released prior to an election. Given the prevalent use of social networking by politicians, could such an attack influence voters enough to sway results?