The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

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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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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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.

Positions Filled: Three Research Appointments in Computational Social Science

**Update 23/09/2016 These posts have been filled, but we will likely advertise again, along similar themes, in a year. We are looking for three talented researchers to join our team of computational social scientists at Oxford.  Ideally, we’d like to have one person interested in the sociology of algorithmic production, another interested in the policy implications…

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A $1 Million Fight Against Hillary Clinton’s Online Trolls

The project’s research into the 2016 US election was covered in the Atlantic. Misinformation can easily take hold online, and spread quickly in the echo chambers of social media. There is certainly no shortage of false information circulating about Clinton online. It’s not hard to see why sinking money into an effort to seek out…

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Politics, Propaganda, and Bots–The Changing Nature of Cyber Warfare

Sam Woolley was a member of a panel at the News Impact Summit on the theme, “Trolls, Corruption, Falsehood: Reporting ‘Truth’ in the Digital Age”. The event was held on Thursday 12 May 2016 at the Sheikh Zayed Theatre on the campus of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The video is available here.

Bots Unite to Automate the Presidential Election

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…

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These are the Droids You’re Looking For: Bots as a Tool For Journalism

This originally appeared as “These are the Droids You’re Looking For:  Bots as a Tool For Journalism” by Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard on the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance Blog. In today’s data-saturated world journalists often struggle to report on many, if not most, of the potential stories that come across their…

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