Political Bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

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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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Social Media, Civic Engagement, and the Slactivism Hypothesis: Lessons from Mexico’s “El Bronco

Does social media use have a positive or negative impact on civic engagement? The cynical “slacktivism hypothesis” holds that if citizens use social media for political conversation, those conversations will be fleeting and vapid. Most attempts to answer this question involve public opinion data from the United States, so we offer an examination o f…

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Fake News Bots

Automated social media accounts known as ‘bots’ may be used to distort political perception online. We speak with research director Samuel Woolley of the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project to learn more about this phenomenon. Listen to the interview with OPB’s Think Out Loud.

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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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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Where Do Bots Come From? An Analysis of Bot Codes Shared on GitHub

An increasing amount of open source code is available on the Internet for quickly setting up and deploying bots on Twitter. This development of open-source Twitter bots signals the emergence of new political economies that redistribute agencies around technological actors, empowering both the writers of the bots and users who deploy a bot based on…

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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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Automating Power: Social Bot Interference in Global Politics

Over the last several years political actors worldwide have begun harnessing the digital power of social bots — software programs designed to mimic human social media users on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Increasingly, politicians, militaries, and government-contracted firms use these automated actors in online attempts to manipulate public opinion and disrupt organizational communication….

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