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    1 July 2017

    Megaphone spouting propaganda

    Our recent research was covered in The Register, a leading technology news site:

    The use of algorithms and bots to spread political propaganda is “one of the most powerful tools against democracy”, top academics have warned.

    A team led by professors at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed tens of millions of posts on seven social media platforms in nine countries, including the US, Russia and Germany, during elections and political crises.

    They were looking at computational propaganda, which is defined as the way algorithms, automation and human curation are used to purposefully distribute misinformation on social media networks.

    The work concludes that the problem is real and widespread, with both governments and activists being responsible.

    However, the report’s authors add that, although social media firms may not be producing the content, they need to take action against it.

    “Computational propaganda is now one of the most powerful tools against democracy,” lead authors Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard write. “Social media firms may not be creating this nasty content, but they are the platform for it. They need to significantly redesign themselves if democracy is going to survive social media.”

    Read the full article in The Register.


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