Israeli Elections Twitter-bot

Automation on a Raspberry Pi

in Automation rtweet

May 31, 2021

Why the Pi

After some recent learning of automating workflows with GitHub Actions, I wanted to take automating one step further. In January 2021 I bought myself a Raspberry Pi 4 (a small computer) and was pondering what to do with it.

At the time Israel was preparing for its fourth consecutive election and I decided to create a corresponding Twitter bot that will operate on the Raspberry Pi. I use Twitter mainly to follow individuals that post about R and data visualization, and saw it as a great opportunity to collect information about the elections so I can view it in one place.

How it works

If you want a more technical overview checkout the project’s GitHub repository. The figure below outlines the conceptual model of the entire process:

  1. The Raspberry Pi runs an R script to query Twitter every 10 minutes for the hashtag ‘#בחירות’ (#elections).

  2. It then filters any tweets that don’t meet a specific criteria (too many hashtags, tagged as spam, etc).

  3. Once the data is filtered, the Raspberry Pi posts the valid tweets back to Twitter as retweets on behalf of the @bchirot2021 Twitter account.

  4. While this happens every 10 minutes, I also setup a MySQL database that updates every night at 11PM with the data.

After an initial setup the process ran automatically every 10 minutes.

The R script is based on Mike Mahoney’s neatly written R script for setting up a Twitter bot. I also used Ran Bar-Zik’s tutorials (in Hebrew) to setup the Raspberry Pi

Closing remarks

Although the bot didn’t attract many followers it was a fun and challenging experience. I learned a lot about setting up a Linux system (Debian), working with shell scripts and crontabs, accessing a remote MySQL database and a lot of work with the command line interface.

The bot is now shutdown and the Pi is awaiting it’s next adventure 😄

The Raspberry Pi (with a 3D printed case by a friend) sitting at home on top of my router.
Posted on:
May 31, 2021
2 minute read, 334 words
Automation rtweet
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