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Bots, Botnets and Political Culture

A short Prezi on what bots are and how they impact public opinion
by

Phil Howard

on 2 June 2015

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Transcript of Bots, Botnets and Political Culture

Bots and Botnets
The word “botnet” comes from combining “robot” with “network.” It is used to describe a collection of programs that communicate across multiple devices to perform some task. The tasks can be simple and annoying, like generating spam. The tasks can be aggressive and malicious, like choking off exchange points, or launching denial-of-service attacks. And not all are developed to advance political causes. Some seem to have been developed for fun or to support criminal enterprises, but all share the property of deploying messages and replicating themselves.
Bots and Real World Politics
Differing forms of bot generated computational propaganda have been deployed in more and more countries.
Should we use bots to promote democracy?

The argument for: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/12/31/twitter_bots_for_democracy_could_combat_authoritarian_governments_50_cent.html

The argument against: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/01/04/pro_democracy_twitter_bots_won_t_work_here_s_why.html

Algorithms Working On You
My colleagues Dr. Christian Sandvig at the University of Michigan just worked out three easy ways of exploring how algorithms shape your consumption of culture and information.

Read his recent blog post on the topic, and try at least one of his tricks: Google Instant, Facebook, DoubleClick Cookies.

http://socialmediacollective.org/2014/03/25/show-and-tell-algorithmic-culture/

Bots, Botnets and Political Culture
Coordinated Tweeting During Last Mexican Presidential Election
Philip N. Howard
Professor
@pnhoward

Authoritarian Regimes

Azerbaijan: http://www.katypearce.net/cyberfuckery-in-azerbaijan/
Bahrain: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/21/syria-twitter-spambots-pro-revolution
Morocco: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/21/syria-twitter-spambots-pro-revolution
Iran: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/21/syria-twitter-spambots-pro-revolution
Russia: http://www.dailydot.com/politics/russia-protest-kremlin-spam-bot-twitter/
China: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/03/twitter-bots-target-tibetan-protests/
Democracies?

Australia: http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-coalitions-twitter-fraud-and-deception,5660
Mexico: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428286/twitter-mischief-plagues-mexicos-election/
South Korea: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/world/asia/south-korean-cyberwarfare-unit-accused-of-political-meddling.html?_r=2&
United Kingdom: http://insidecroydon.com/2012/11/26/jasper-admits-to-using-twitter-bots-to-drive-election-bid/
United States: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/fashion/twitter-followers-for-sale.html
Will bots fight in the next US Presidential Election?

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/01/02/lets-make-candidates-pledge-not-to-use-bots/
This work can be cited as Howard, P. (2015). Bots, Botnets, and Political Culture [Prezi]. Retrieved from philhoward.org. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial - Share Alike 4.0 International License.
Source: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/incapsula-bot-traffic-report-2014/
Upside
There are lots of things that social media bots could do to enrich our online conversation, monitor those in power, shield us from hate speech, and support social movements.
http://civichall.org/civicist/bring-on-the-bots/
Full transcript