Phil Howard and Sam Woolley wrote an article on the 2016 US election for Wired Magazine.
But as the power of bots grows, so does the capacity for misuse. Bots now pollute conversations around topics like #blacklivesmatter and #guncontrol, interrupting productive debate with outpourings of automated hate. We’ve seen antivaccination bots reach out to parents in a campaign to discourage child inoculations.
So it’s no surprise that bots are creeping into election politics. Researchers at Wellesley College found evidence that when Scott Brown successfully ran for senator in 2010, a conservative group used bots to attack his opponent, Martha Coakley. Gawker reported in 2011 that Newt Gingrich’s campaign bought more than a million fake followers. Outside the US, Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party was caught using thousands of bots to spread campaign messages.