Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

Prezi: Confronting Political Bot Attacks – Guidelines for Civil Society Leaders

Governments, militaries, and lone attackers increasingly use bots to attack civil society groups. How should such groups prepare and respond?

Prezi: About the Project

Here is an interactive Prezi describing the goals, work plan and initial findings of the Computational Propaganda Research Project.

Ecuador is Spending Millions on Malware, Pro-Government Trolls

(This originally appeared as #HackingTeam Leaks: Ecuador is Spending Millions on Malware, Pro-Government Trolls” on Global Voices Advocacy) Three Ecuadorian media sites experienced incapacitating online attacks last month, just minutes after they published evidence of an association between the Ecuadorian government and the surveillance technology company Hacking Team. News and commentary websites including Plan V and Gkillcity, along with the…

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The Internet of Things is Poised to Change Democracy Itself

(This appeared as “Politics won’t know what hit it:  The Internet of Things is poised to change democracy itself” in Politico Magazine.) In the evolving conversation about the “Internet of Things” — the growth of networked everyday objects and the data they generate — analysts tend to focus on business opportunity, or the security risks,…

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How Big Is The Internet of Things and how Big Will It Get?

New information technologies have transformed world politics, and not always for the better. Even trying to understand how technology connects us reveals the strengths and weaknesses of the Internet. To understand what the Internet is becoming, let’s start with some basic questions—how big is it and how big will it be? The word “botnet” comes…

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Bring on the Bots

 (This originally appeared as “Bring on the Bots” on Civicist) Bots—particularly bots on social media—can’t seem to catch a break in the news lately. First, the Block Bot, a program designed to help Twitter users weed-out disliked content and people, simultaneously fell afoul of Richard Dawkins, members of the conservative press, and legal pundits. Next, an…

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The Myth of Violent Online Extremism

This originally appeared on the Yale Books blog. The responsibility of social and digital networks in combating terrorism has come under particular scrutiny since the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015. Philip N. Howard, Pax Technica author and commentator on the important relationship between politics and technology joins the debate, calling for a reassessment of current thinking…

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Bad News Bots: How Civil Society Can Combat Automated Online Propaganda

It’s no secret that governments and political actors now make use of social robots or bots—automated scripts that produce content and mimic real users. Faux social media accounts now spread pro-governmental messages, beef up web site follower numbers, and causeartificial trends. Bot-generated propaganda and misdirection has become a worldwide political strategy. Robotic lobbying tactics have…

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Spammers, Scammers, and Trolls: Political Bot Manipulation

(This originally appeared in the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation’s “Data and Discrimination: Collected Essays“) Social bots, bits of code that generate content and mimic real social media users, are nothing new. Since the launch of Friendster and MySpace, social networking platforms have regularly featured fake accounts. Savvy programmers, spammers, and promoters…

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New York Times: Hungary’s Crackdown on the Media

(This originally appeared in the NYT as “Hungary’s Crackdown on the Press“.) BUDAPEST — The European Union faces a challenging conundrum. While Hungary has embarked on building Europe’s most controlled media system, the European Commission just agreed in August to provide the country with nearly 22 billion euros of economic assistance. Hungary has become a…

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