The Computational Propaganda Project

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

How fake news becomes a popular, trending topic

Our project was featured in a 60 Minutes investigation of ‘fake news’ and disinformation. Phil Howard leads the Internet Institute at the University of Oxford which examines misinformation on social media. They’ve analyzed web traffic in the days before the election in the swing state of Michigan. Scott Pelley: How much of this news on…

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Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Our project work was covered in the Guardian. The war of the bots is one of the wilder and weirder aspects of the elections of 2016. At the Oxford Internet Institute’s Unit for Computational Propaganda, its director, Phil Howard, and director of research, Sam Woolley, show me all the ways public opinion can be massaged…

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Trump, Putin and the New Cold War

Our project research on the US Election was mentioned in the New Yorker. On April 12, 1982, Yuri Andropov, the chairman of the K.G.B., ordered foreign-intelligence operatives to carry out “active measures”—aktivniye meropriyatiya—against the reëlection campaign of President Ronald Reagan. Unlike classic espionage, which involves the collection of foreign secrets, active measures aim at influencing…

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Logo of journal Big Data

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Computational Propaganda and Political Big Data

We are pleased to announce a special issue of the journal Big Data dedicated to computational propaganda. This special issue is guest edited by project members Professor Phil Howard and Gillian Bolsover. The deadline for submission is 1 June, 2017 for publication in December 2017. Computational propaganda—the use of information technologies for political purposes—is on…

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Social Media, Civic Engagement, and the Slactivism Hypothesis: Lessons from Mexico’s “El Bronco

Does social media use have a positive or negative impact on civic engagement? The cynical “slacktivism hypothesis” holds that if citizens use social media for political conversation, those conversations will be fleeting and vapid. Most attempts to answer this question involve public opinion data from the United States, so we offer an examination o f…

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Pizza, politics and pure fiction: the rise of fake news

The project’s research was featured in The Telegraph. Intended fake news sites, according to Philip Howard, a professor at Oxford university’s internet institute, are split between the purely ideological and those driven by cash – hoping to maximise clicks on their link or site to secure advertising dollars. It’s impossible to tell the difference on…

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Automated Pro-Trump Overwhelmed Pro-Clinton Messages, Researchers Say

The project’s research on the US Presidential Election was covered in The New York Times. An automated army of pro-Donald J. Trump chatbots overwhelmed similar programs supporting Hillary Clinton five to one in the days leading up to the presidential election, according to a report published Thursday by researchers at Oxford University. The chatbots —…

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The Trump Twitter Bots Went Hard on Election Day

The project’s research on the 2016 US election was covered in Bloomberg. Donald Trump’s supporters made a surprisingly strong showing on Nov. 8, and not just at polling places in the rust belt. Twitter bots accounted for nearly a quarter of all postings that included hashtags related to the election, according to an analysis by researchers at Corvinus University, Oxford,…

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Bots and Automation over Twitter during the U.S. Election

Bots are social media accounts that automate interaction with other users, and political bots have been particularly active on public policy issues, political crises, and elections. We collected data on bot activity using the major hashtags related to the U.S. Presidential Election. We find that that political bot activity reached an all-time high for the…

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How Pro-Trump Twitter Bots Spread Fake News

The project’s research on the 2016 US election was covered in the Daily Beast. According to a new memo compiling data from the election by a team of researchers including Oxford University Professor Philip Howard, automated pro-Trump activity outnumbered automated pro-Hillary Clinton activity by a 5:1 ratio by Election Day. And many of those auto-Trumpkins…

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