Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Venezuela

Social and political bots have a small but strategic role in Venezuelan political conversations. These automated scripts generate content through social media platforms and then interact with people. In this preliminary study on the use of political bots in Venezuela, we analyze the tweeting, following and retweeting patterns for the accounts of prominent Venezuelan politicians and prominent Venezuelan bots. We find that bots generate a very small proportion of all the traffic about political life in Venezuela. Bots are used to retweet content from Venezuelan politicians but the effect is subtle in that less than 10 percent of all retweets come from bot-related platforms. Nonetheless, we find that the most active bots are those used by Venezuela’s radical opposition. Bots are pretending to be political leaders, government agencies and political parties more than citizens. Finally, bots are promoting innocuous political events more than attacking opponents or spreading misinformation.

Forelle, Michelle C and Howard, Philip N. and Monroy-Hernandez, Andres and Savage, Saiph, Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Venezuela (July 25, 2015). Available at SSRN:http://ssrn.com/abstract=2635800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2635800.

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Andrés Monroy-HernándezBotsMichelle ForellePhil HowardPoliticsSaiph SavageVenezuela

Phil Howard • August 28, 2015


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