Computational propaganda has recently exploded into public consciousness. The U.S. presidential campaign of 2016 was marred by evidence, which continues to emerge, of targeted political propaganda and the use of bots to distribute political messages on social media. This computational propaganda is both a social and technical phenomenon. Technical knowledge is necessary to work with the massive databases used for audience targeting; it is necessary to create the bots and algorithms that distribute propaganda; it is necessary to monitor and evaluate the results of these efforts in agile campaigning. Thus, a technical knowledge comparable to those who create and distribute this propaganda is necessary to investigate the phenomenon.

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Bolsover, G., and P. Howard. (2017). Computational Propaganda and Political Big Data: Moving Toward a More Critical Research Agenda. Big Data 5(4).

Note: This post was originally published on the Political Bots research blog on . It might have been updated since then in its original location. The post gives the views of the author(s), and not necessarily the position of the Oxford Internet Institute.