Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

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Resource for Understanding Political Bots

We put together this brief write-up for people (concerned citizens, journalists, policy makers, academics, etc.) hoping to 1) understand the use and brief history of political bots, 2) develop ways for spotting political bots on social media platforms and 3) work to understand the role of companies like Twitter and Facebook in moderating bot driven…

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Bots and Automation over Twitter during the U.S. Election

Bots are social media accounts that automate interaction with other users, and political bots have been particularly active on public policy issues, political crises, and elections. We collected data on bot activity using the major hashtags related to the U.S. Presidential Election. We find that that political bot activity reached an all-time high for the…

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Bots and Automation over Twitter during the Third U.S. Presidential Debate

Bots are social media accounts that automate interaction with other users, and political bots have been particularly active on public policy issues, political crises, and elections. We collected data on bot activity using the major hashtags related to the third U.S. Presidential debate. We find that automated pro-Trump accounts became even more aggressive in this…

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Cracking the stealth political influence of bots

Among the millions of real people tweeting about the presidential race, there are also a lot accounts operated by fake people, or “bots.” Politicians and regular users alike use these accounts to increase their follower bases and push messages. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how computer scientists can analyze Twitter handles to determine whether…

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Pro-Clinton bots ‘fought back but outnumbered in second debate’

Helped with a BBC story on the battles between candidate bots. The suspected bot accounts tweeted more than 1.7 million times on the days of the debates and the next three days. The study warns they might “polarise” online debate and “muddy” issues. The work was led by Prof Philip Howard, from the University of Oxford’s…

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As Artificial Intelligence Evolves, So Does Its Criminal Potential

Helped with a New York Times story on the role of AI in political and criminal communications. Researchers have coined the term “computational propaganda” to describe the explosion of deceptive social media campaigns on services like Facebook and Twitter. In a recent research paper, Philip N. Howard, a sociologist at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Bence…

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Bot Tweets Influencing U.S. Election

Contributed to this CBC National news story on bots and the election.

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Partisan Twitter bots distorting U.S. presidential candidates’ popularity

Our research was featured on the CBC National News, and in this online piece. Thousands of automated accounts — known as bots — flood site with messages for and against candidates.  @loserDonldTrump wasn’t born yesterday. It was actually the day before. Just after 3 p.m. ET on October 18, the baby bot burst into the Twitterverse….

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One in four debate tweets comes from a bot. Here’s how to spot them.

Our research was featured in the Washington Post online: Philip Howard has a fancy name for partisan election bots. He calls them “computational propaganda” — and lately, he sees them a lot.

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NETZ­PO­LI­TIK Digitale Dreckschleudern

Our research was featured in Spiegel Online: Automatische Bots verzerren politische Diskussionen in sozialen Netzwerken und können Wahlen beeinflussen. Die Kanzlerin hält sie für gefährlich, die AfD will sie einsetzen.

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