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OxTEC: Literature review on elections, political campaigning and democracy

25 September 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

Oxford Technology and Elections Commission (OxTEC) have released a literature review looking at how scholars have theorized the influence of digital technology on democracy. The report summarizes scholarly texts on a few key topics: political communication theory in a digital age, surveillance and privacy, algorithms and bias, the attention economy, and historical thought concerning information environments...

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OxTEC: A report on anti-disinformation initiatives

22 August 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

Oxford Technology and Elections Commission (OxTEC) has released their first report, written and researched by BBC Monitoring’s specialist Disinformation Team. The report investigates fake news landscapes around the world and analyses a range of measures adopted by governments to combat disinformation. The analysis provides geopolitical context with timely, relevant examples from 19 countries in four continents (with a particular focus on European nations)...

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News and Information over Facebook and WhatsApp during the Indian Election Campaign

13 May 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

Social media platforms have become an important source of political news and information for voters in India’s national election. To evaluate the quality of sources and images being shared, we examine the patterns of content circulation on Facebook and WhatsApp with a large sample of data collected over a two month period in advance of the elections. We find that (1) more than a quarter of the content shared by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a fifth of the content shared by the Indian National Congress (INC) is junk news, while the Samajwadi and Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) shares very little sensational, extremist, or conspiratorial content. (2) For visual content being shared in our sample of WhatsApp groups, a third of the BJP’s images, a quarter of the INC’s images, and a tenth the SP-BSP’s images were catalogued as divisive and conspiratorial. Comparing the platforms, we find that (3) misinformation on WhatsApp primarily takes the form of visual content, while misinformation on Facebook involves links to sensational, extremist, and conspiratorial news sites and visual content. On a positive note, (4) we observed very limited amounts of hate speech, gore or pornography in either platform samples. Yet in comparison with other recent international elections, (5) the proportion of polarizing political news and information in circulation over social media in India is worse than all of the other country case studies we have analysed, except the US Presidential election in 2016...

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Iranian Digital Interference in the Arab World

3 April 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

Iranian interference in the politics of Arab countries has become more self-evident since the Arab Spring of 2011. Iran has been trying to widen its influence in the region in a political confrontation with Saudi Arabia. In October 2018, Twitter released 770 accounts with potential Iranian origins. In this study, we examine Arabic-language tweets from these 770 accounts linked to Iran. We find that: (1) Arabic is the third most used language in the Iranian data set; (2) Arabic tweets were not aiming to socially engage with other Arab users but rather to promote certain websites, and more than 69% of the links are to pro-Iran Arabic-language news websites; (3) the most widely shared websites extracted from Arabic tweets in our data set push an Iranian political narrative, including criticism of Saudi Arabia and support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad...

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Polarisation and the use of technology in political campaigns and communication

11 March 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

This report offers a comprehensive overview of the relationship between technology, democracy and the polarisation of public discourse. Technology is inherently political, and the ways in which it is designed and used have ongoing implications for participation, deliberation, and democracy. Algorithms, automation, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly embedded in everyday life in democratic societies; this report provides an in-depth analysis of the technological affordances that enhance and undermine political decision-making, both now and in the future. To conclude, we formulate principles and policy options for fostering a better relationship between digital technology and public life...

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What is platform governance?

11 February 2019

Academic Articles

The article ‘What is platform governance?’ by Robert Gorwa was published in Information, Communication & Society, with support from the Computational Propaganda Project. ..

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Government Responses to Malicious Use of Social Media

21 January 2019

Working Papers & Data Memos

The following paper was published by the NATO STRATCOM Centre of Excellence as a part of their series on ‘Countering the Malicious Use of Social Media.’ You can read the paper on their website here..