The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Our project work was covered in the Guardian. The war of the bots is one of the wilder and weirder aspects of the elections of 2016. At the Oxford Internet Institute’s Unit for Computational Propaganda, its director, Phil Howard, and director of research, Sam Woolley, show me all the ways public opinion can be massaged…

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Trump, Putin and the New Cold War

Our project research on the US Election was mentioned in the New Yorker. On April 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov, the chairman of the K.G.B., ordered foreign-intelligence operatives to carry out “active measures”—aktivniye meropriyatiya—against the reëlection campaign of President Ronald Reagan. Unlike classic espionage, which involves the collection of foreign secrets, active measures aim at influencing…

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Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: International Law and the Future on Online PsyOps

Recent years have seen an explosion of activity from states and non-state actors seeking to manipulate online political discourse at home and abroad. These efforts have leveraged a range of different techniques, from the use of swarms of automated bots to the systemic spreading of misleading or outright fabricated information through social media. Most dramatically,…

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Così funziona la propaganda politica a colpi di bot su Twitter

Our project work was covered in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Quando si incontra online una pagina per segnalare le molestie ricevute da un bot – cioè da un programma automatico – viene da chiedersi se per caso non si sia finiti in un libro di Philip Dick. Invece, è l’università di Oxford a domandarlo….

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As a conservative Twitter user sleeps, his account is hard at work

Our project’s work was covered in the Washington Post. CHICAGO — Daniel John Sobieski, 68, climbed the stairs in his modest brick home and settled into a worn leather chair for another busy day of tweeting. But he needn’t have bothered. As one of the nation’s most prolific conservative voices on Twitter, he already had…

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

Our research was covered in the Sydney Morning Herald. On social media, bots (short for robots) are small programs that automate the posting of and reply to messages. Political campaigns in democracies have used bots in recent years, not always achieving the effects they desired. But last year, they began to be exploited in a…

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Logo of journal Big Data

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

Sam Woolley was interviewed about the project’s research on Oregon Public Radio. 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 here.

Pizza, politics and pure fiction: the rise of fake news

The project’s research was featured in The Telegraph. Intended fake news sites, according to Philip Howard, a professor at Oxford university’s internet institute, are split between the purely ideological and those driven by cash – hoping to maximise clicks on their link or site to secure advertising dollars. It’s impossible to tell the difference on…

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