Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

Fake News: Why the West is Blind to Russia’s Propaganda Today

Russia has skilfully exploited social media to divide the West and increase Moscow’s power in Europe, the US and eventually Asia. The use of social media as a platform to divide democracies works, in part, because the strategy preys on a fundamental blind spot in open societies: the origin and volume of voices taking part…

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Call for Papers: Special Issue on Computational Propaganda and Political Big Data

We are pleased to announce a special issue of the journal Big Data dedicated to computational propaganda. This special issue is guest edited by project members Professor Phil Howard and Gillian Bolsover. The deadline for submission is 1 June, 2017 for publication in December 2017. Computational propaganda—the use of information technologies for political purposes—is on…

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IJOC: Automation, Big Data and Politics: A Research Review

We review the great variety of critical scholarship on algorithms, automation, and big data in areas of contemporary life both to document where there has been robust scholarship and to contribute to existing scholarship by identifying gaps in our research agenda. We identify five domains with opportunities for further scholarship: (a) China, (b) international interference…

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Growing Bot Security: An Ecological View of Bot Agency

Political actors are now deploying software programs called social bots that use social networking services such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with users and manipulate their behavior, creating profound issues for Internet security. Current approaches in bot control continue to fail because social media platforms supply communication resources that allow bots to escape detection…

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Auditing for Transparency in Content Personalization Systems

Do we have a right to transparency when we use content personalization systems? Building on prior work in discrimination detection in data mining, I propose algorithm auditing as a compatible ethical duty for providers of content personalization systems to maintain the transparency of political discourse. I explore barriers to auditing that reveal the practical limitations…

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When the Algorithm Itself is a Racist: Diagnosing Ethical Harm in the Basic Components of Software

Computer algorithms organize and select information across a wide range of applications and industries, from search results to social media. Abuses of power by Internet platforms have led to calls for algorithm transparency and regulation. Algorithms have a particularly problematic history of processing information about race. Yet some analysts have warned that foundational computer algorithms…

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IJOC: Political Communication, Computational Propaganda, and Autonomous Agents — Introduction

The Internet certainly disrupted our understanding of what communication can be, who does it, how, and to what effect. What constitutes the Internet has always been an evolving suite of technologies and a dynamic set of social norms, rules, and patterns of use. But the shape and character of digital communications are shifting again—the browser…

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