Stay Woke with Help From a Bot
The project’s research was covered in Fast Company.
“I don’t think Twitter should outright ban bots,” says Sam Woolley, who researches computational propaganda at the University of Washington. “Good bots are acting like information radiators for activists; they can be used as a social or civil prosthesis for communities that lack voice. But they shouldn’t be a way for the most powerful to gain an advantage.”
After all, collectively, bots are becoming influencers. Fake-follower bots are shaping our impressions of presidential candidates, as when Mitt Romney’s Twitter account gained 100,000 followers in a single weekend, in what some partisan commentators pegged as a desperate attempt to assert his popularity. Bot-farm armies in Mexico and Turkey have taken over activist hashtags, “Twitter-bombing” conversations in order to reduce the media’s utility as a public messaging tool. Woolley is in the process of compiling case studies on noteworthy political bot attacks from around the world.