Thousands of people are using bots to track the Trump administration

Where the bots are.
Where the bots are.
Image: Reuters/James Lawler Duggan
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Tens of thousands of people are signing up for automated alerts on what is usually a dull affair: the intricate mechanics of government.

IFTTT—”If this then that”—is a platform that lets non-programmers create and customize internet services, for example, automatically tweeting “Happy New Year!” every Jan. 1. Now, more than 40,000 of the platform’s users are using simple bot-like programs called “applets” to track the Trump administration. Users can get an email every time Trump signs a new bill into law, for example, or have bills that are scheduled for a vote automatically added to their calendars.

The number of IFTTT users tracking the government has risen dramatically since Trump’s victory in November, to more than 40,000 from 30,000 ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The applets are hosted by journalism nonprofit ProPublica on an IFTTT page that launched today. Some of the programs were created by ProPublica and others by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that works on government transparency. The Sunlight Foundation first offered the applets in January 2014; ProPublica took over when the foundation discontinued its tool-building work in September.

Hundreds of people also use IFTTT programs to automatically keep up with President Trump’s tweets, as Marketwatch has reported, by compiling them into an email or posting them to Slack channels.