The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Junk News and Bots during the German Parliamentary Election: What are German Voters Sharing over Twitter?

Automation and propaganda can significantly impact public life during important policy debates, elections, and political crises. We collected Twitter data on bot activity and junk news using a set of hashtags related to the 2017 German Parliamentary Election for a ten-day period in September 2017. We find that (1) traffic about the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) accounts…

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What Facebook Knows

The project’s research and writing was discussed in Vice News. To answer these questions conclusively, academic researchers have said that Facebook could very easily clear the air by releasing more of its data. But just as the company keeps its algorithm under wraps, the company has thus far declined to share broad data about the…

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Spreading fake news becomes standard practice for governments across the world

The project’s research on government-sponsored social media manipulation was covered in the Washington Post. These propaganda efforts exploit every social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond — and rely on human users and computerized “bots” that can dramatically amplify the power of disinformation campaigns by automating the process of preparing and delivering posts….

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Please Prove You’re Not a Robot

The project’s research was featured in a New York Times column written by Tim Wu. Robots posing as people have become a menace. For popular Broadway shows (need we say “Hamilton”?), it is actually bots, not humans, who do much and maybe most of the ticket buying. Shows sell out immediately, and the middlemen (quite…

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Government ‘Cyber Troops’ Manipulate Facebook, Twitter, Study Says

The project’s recent paper on government efforts to manipulate public opinion online was covered by Bloomberg. Governments around the world are enlisting “cyber troops” who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford. Adding to growing evidence…

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How Bots Win Friends and Influence People

Project PI Phil Howard was interviewed for a short article in IEEE Spectrum. Every now and then sociologist Phil Howard writes messages to social media accounts accusing them of being bots. It’s like a Turing test of the state of online political propaganda. “Once in a while a human will come out and say, ‘I’m not a…

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Computational Propaganda Worldwide: Executive Summary

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our case study series on computational propaganda in 9 different countries. Find the executive summary, written by Sam Woolley and Phil Howard, here. The Computational Propaganda Research Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, has researched the use of social media for public opinion manipulation. The…

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Phil Howard on Danish Television

Project PI Phil Howard appeared on DR, the Danish TV station, to discuss some of the project’s latest research. The full episode is available here [interview begins in the second half of the programme].    

Oxford profs tell Twitter, Facebook to take action against political bots

Our recent research was covered in The Register, a leading technology news site: The use of algorithms and bots to spread political propaganda is “one of the most powerful tools against democracy”, top academics have warned. A team led by professors at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed tens of millions of posts on seven social…

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Facebook and Twitter are being used to manipulate public opinion – report

Our case study series on computational propaganda worldwide was covered in the Guardian: Propaganda on social media is being used to manipulate public opinion around the world, a new set of studies from the University of Oxford has revealed. From Russia, where around 45% of highly active Twitter accounts are bots, to Taiwan, where a campaign…

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