Computational Propaganda in Canada: The Use of Political Bots

19 June 2017

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As part of our new country case study series, project members Fenwick McKelvey and Elizabeth Dubois investigated the use of political bots in Canada.

Are bots active in Canada? Yes. Are they influential? Maybe. Using a combination of quantitative social media analysis, content analysis of news articles and qualitative interviews, we study the use of political bots in Canada. We identify four kinds of bots. Amplifiers game digital systems to promote a message or channel. Dampeners supress and remove information online. Alongside these problematic bots, we also find a number of benign bots that help journalists, civil society and governments. These bots include transparency bots that disclose information to the public and servant bots that help maintain services and infrastructures. Even though bots might not yet be influential in Canada, improved media literacy and increased public discussion of the pitfalls of social media are required.

Citation: Fenwick McKelvey & Elizabeth Dubois, “Computational Propaganda in Canada: The Use of Political Bots.” Samuel Woolley and Philip N. Howard, Eds. Working Paper 2017.6. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda.<>. 32 pp.

Read the full report here.

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