A primer on political bots: Part one

Data Drive Journalism – “The rise of political bots brings into sharp focus the role of automated social media accounts in today’s democratic civil society. Events during the Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. Presidential election revealed the scale of this issue for the first time to the majority of citizens and policy-makers. At the same time, the deployment of Russian-linked bots designed to promote pro-gun laws in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting demonstrates the state-sponsored, real-time readiness to shape, through information warfare, the dominant narratives on platforms such as Twitter. The regular news reports on these issues lead us to conclude that the foundations of democracy have become threatened by the presence of aggressive and socially disruptive bots, which aim to manipulate online political discourse. While there is clarity on the various functions that bot accounts can be scripted to perform, as described below, the task…

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