Social media ‘bots’ tried to influence the U.S. election. Germany may be next.
Lisa-Maria Neudert was interviewed for this Science Magazine story on bots and the German election.
Germany seemed a good place to try. The German parliament’s network was hacked in 2015—Russia is said to be the prime suspect—leading to worries that stolen emails might be published strategically to affect the election. (In France’s presidential election this spring, bots drew attention to stolen, as well as faked, documents.) Last October, Merkel urged political parties to refrain from using social bots; all major parties except Alternative für Deutschland agreed.
Now, research groups are trawling tens of millions of tweets related to the German elections for signs that bots are exerting influence. Lisa-Maria Neudert of the Computational Propaganda Project at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom is comparing current bot activity to patterns seen during Germany’s presidential elections last February. In that election, in which a political body called the Federal Assembly votes rather than the public, bots accounted for a small fraction of political tweets, Neudert says. She expects more bot activity in the upcoming election, where public opinion is at stake.
Read the full article here.