Increasingly, social media platforms have become tools for manipulating public opinion during elections. Political actors make use of technological proxies in the form
of proprietary algorithms and semi-automated social actors—political bots—in subtle at
tempts to manipulate public opinion. Through the ERC COMPROP Consolidator award, researchers have demonstrated that even simple bots (i) effectively keep negative messages and fake news in circulation longer, (ii) target journalists and civil society group
s, and (iii) operate with little oversight from social media firms. Such bots have negative consequences both for public trust in technology innovation and for the quality of public
deliberation in Europe’s democracies. ERC researchers have been able to identify highly automated, politically-manipulative social media accounts post-hoc, and this Proof of Concept project will allow researchers to take what we have learned and produce an online tool that allows the public to evaluate suspicious social media accounts. Most social media platforms are slow to address troll and bot activity, so this innovative tool will put ERC research into public service in Europe—and around the world.
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.