The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Perspective: Should We Regulate Digital Platforms?

I invited Phil Howard and Gillian Bolsover in November of 2016 to guest edit this special issue of Big Data on ‘‘Computational Propaganda.’’ I am delighted at the collection of academic papers that they have curated on the subject, which is front and center at the moment. Politicians, journalists, and scholars grapple with how and…

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Social Bots: Human-Like by Means of Human Control?

Abstract: Social bots are currently regarded an influential but also somewhat mysterious factor in public discourse and opinion making. They are considered to be capable of massively distributing propaganda in social and online media, and their application is even suspected to be partly responsible for recent election results. Astonishingly, the term social bot is not well…

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Japan’s 2014 General Election: Political Bots, Right-Wing Internet Activism, and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe’s Hidden Nationalist Agenda

Abstract: In this article, we present results on the identification and behavioral analysis of social bots in a sample of 542,584 Tweets, collected before and after Japan’s 2014 general election. Typical forms of bot activity include massive Retweeting and repeated posting of (nearly) the same message, sometimes used in combination. We focus on the second method…

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Detecting Bots on Russian Political Twitter

Abstract: Automated and semiautomated Twitter accounts, bots, have recently gained significant public attention due to their potential interference in the political realm. In this study, we develop a methodology for detecting bots on Twitter using an ensemble of classifiers and apply it to study bot activity within political discussions in the Russian Twittersphere. We focus on…

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Improving Predictive Accuracy in Elections

Abstract: The problem of accurately predicting vote counts in elections is considered in this article. Typically, small-sample polls are used to estimate or predict election outcomes. In this study, a machine-learning hybrid approach is proposed. This approach utilizes multiple sets of static data sources, such as voter registration data, and dynamic data sources, such as polls…

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Harvesting Social Signals to Inform Peace Processes Implementation and Monitoring

Abstract: Peace processes are complex, protracted, and contentious involving significant bargaining and compromising among various societal and political stakeholders. In civil war terminations, it is pertinent to measure the pulse of the nation to ensure that the peace process is responsive to citizens’ concerns. Social media yields tremendous power as a tool for dialogue, debate, organization,…

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Fake News: A Technological Approach to Proving the Origins of Content, Using Blockchains

Abstract: In this article, we introduce a prototype of an innovative technology for proving the origins of captured digital media. In an era of fake news, when someone shows us a video or picture of some event, how can we trust its authenticity? It seems that the public no longer believe that traditional media is…

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Foreign Policy: 2017 Global Thinkers

Phil Howard was named one of Foreign Policy’s top global thinkers of 2017, along with Alice Marwick from Data and Society/UNC! Howard heads the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford, an interdisciplinary research group that combines the methods of computer science, political science, and sociology to examine how the internet and social media can be used…

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10 Things you wish you didn’t know about elections (and what to do about them)

Project PI Phil Howard spoke at an event hosted by the University’s Social Science Division to highlight projects across the university receiving ERC funding. The talk has been made into an interactive presentation accessible here.  

Fingerprints of Russian Disinformation

Samantha Bradshaw spoke to the New York Times for a story touching on the history of social media manipulation. The Twitter bots that helped spread viral fake news during the election last year have now morphed into cyborgs, or accounts that blend automation with human curation, said Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher on the Computational Propaganda…

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