The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Bots and Political Influence: A Sociotechnical Investigation of Social Network Capital

This study explains how bots interact with human users and influence conversational networks on Twitter. We analyze a high-stakes political environment, the UK general election of May 2015, asking human volunteers to tweet from purpose-made Twitter accounts—half of which had bots attached—during three events: the last Prime Minister’s Question Time before Parliament was dissolved (#PMQs),…

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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: Talking to Bots: Symbiotic Agency and the Case of Tay

In 2016, Microsoft launched Tay, an experimental artificial intelligence chat bot. Learning from interactions with Twitter users, Tay was shut down after one day because of its obscene and inflammatory tweets. This article uses the case of Tay to re-examine theories of agency. How did users view the personality and actions of an artificial intelligence…

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IJOC: Keeping Ottawa Honest—One Tweet at a Time? Politicians, Journalists, Wikipedians and Their Twitter Bots

WikiEdits bots are a class of Twitter bot that announce edits made by Wikipedia users editing under government IP addresses, with the goal of making government editing activities more transparent. This article examines the characteristics and impact of transparency bots, bots that make visible the edits of institutionally affiliated individuals by reporting them on Twitter….

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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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Inside Trump’s ‘cyborg’ Twitter army

The project’s research into the 2016 US election was covered in Politico. “The bot nets usually turn whatever the issue is back on Hillary,” said Phil Howard, a professor at Oxford University’s Internet Institute and the principal investigator at the Computational Propaganda Project, which has closely tracked the networks. Howard has noted the same pattern…

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BBC Click: A look at bots influencing social media in the US election

The project’s research was featured in a segment of the BBC show Click, which discussed the role of social media bots in modern political communication. Watch the video on the BBC iPlayer.

Stay Woke with Help From a Bot

The project’s research was covered in Fast Company. “I don’t think Twitter should outright ban bots,” says Sam Woolley, who researches computational propaganda at the University of Washington. “Good bots are acting like information radiators for activists; they can be used as a social or civil prosthesis for communities that lack voice. But they shouldn’t…

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Creativity and Critique: Gap Analysis of Support for Critical Research on Big Data

We define big data as large amounts of information, collected about many people, over multiple devices. We define critical big data research as efforts to demonstrate how flaws—ethical or methodological—in the collection and use and of big have implications for social inequality. There are many critical and creative big data research endeavors around the world. Here…

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Watch out for the Brexit bots

The project’s research into the Brexit referendum was covered in Quartz. As the Brexit vote draws closer, undecided voters will need to make up their minds. Some will turn to friends and family. Others will turn to news channels. A piece of advice: Whatever you do, avoid Twitter. Out of 1.5 million tweets between June…

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