Political bots

Project on Algorithms, Computational Propaganda, and Digital Politics

Social Media’s Increasing Role In The 2016 Presidential Election

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Social media, by this point, is not new. But in this election season, it’s played a bigger role in our politics than ever before. NPR’s Sam Sanders has been following how our politics play out on Facebook and Twitter and other social media. And he has some thoughts. Good morning. SAM SANDERS,…

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How pro-Trump Twitter bots are still manipulating the 2016 conversation

During the third and final presidential debate of the 2016 election, Twitter was flooded with jokes about nasty women and bad hombres. Political pundits, both professional and amateur, battled it out on the field of ideas—which, at this point in the national political discourse, consisted of a lot of juvenile name-calling. It was alternatively chaotic…

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Woolley and Guilbeault on Bots in The Atlantic

Director of Research Sam Woolley and affiliate researcher Douglas Guilbealt wrote a piece on how “Bots are Shaping the US Election” for The Atlantic. — There is power in numbers, or so the saying goes. But statistics mean different things to different people. Take Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, for instance. Last week, the conservative…

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Cracking the Stealth Political Influence of Bots

Among the millions of real people tweeting about the presidential race, there are also a lot accounts operated by fake people, or “bots.” Politicians and regular users alike use these accounts to increase their follower bases and push messages. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how computer scientists can analyze Twitter handles to determine whether…

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One in four debate tweets comes from a bot. Here’s how to spot them.

Philip Howard has a fancy name for partisan election bots. He calls them “computational propaganda” — and lately, he sees them a lot. On Oct. 14, the Oxford University professor released a paper dissecting bot activity after the first American presidential debate, finding that — among other things — Donald Trump benefited disproportionately. Wednesday, he…

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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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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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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: 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

When Donald Trump confronted revelations that he used money from his charitable foundation to settle private legal disputes and purchase portraits of himself, a tireless army of tweeters went to work to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton’s foundation instead. Then Trump stumbled on a debate question about why he refuses to release his taxes,…

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