Social media platforms do not just circulate political ideas, they support manipulative disinformation campaigns. While some of these disinformation campaigns are carried out directly by individuals, most are waged by software, commonly known as bots, programmed to perform simple, repetitive, robotic tasks. Some social media bots collect and distribute legitimate information, while others communicate with and harass people, manipulate trending algorithms, and inundate systems with spam. Campaigns made up of bots, fake accounts, and trolls can be coordinated by one person, or a small group of people, to give the illusion of large-scale consensus. Some political regimes use political bots to silence opponents and to push official state messaging, to sway the vote during elections, and to defame critics, human rights defenders, civil society groups, and journalists. This book argues that such automation and platform manipulation, amounts to a new political communications mechanism that Samuel Woolley and Philip N. Noward call computational propaganda. This differs from older styles of propaganda in that it uses algorithms, automation, and human curation to purposefully distribute misleading information over social media networks while it actively learns from and mimicks real people so as to manipulate public opinion across a diverse range of platforms and device networks. This book includes cases of computational propaganda from nine countries (both democratic and authoritarian) and four continents (North and South America, Europe, and Asia), covering propaganda efforts over a wide array of social media platforms and usage in different types of political processes (elections, referenda, and during political crises).
For a long time, politicians struggled to make sense of social media. Then in one electoral season, bots, blogs, YouTube posts and other types of social media amplifiers turned election projections, referenda, and the political landscape upside down. What you thought you knew about the political process is wrong. You have been misinformed. Read this excellent book and find out why. * Zizi Papacharissi, Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology, and Politics * Propaganda used to be broadcast-today, propaganda flows in digital networks of human as well as non-human agents. This timely volume brings together a unique set of case studies from around the world revealing the current state of computational propaganda. * Klaus Bruhn Jensen, A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies * In the first two decades of the worldwide web, Internet studies focused on how the technology expands social and political space. The 2010s have brought ample evidence of that space being colonized by the usual suspects-states and other powerful anti-democratic actors. This book makes a major contribution to our understanding of how various digital methods, from automated scripts to human trolls, are being harnessed to pollute the information ecosystem, divide societies, and manipulate public opinion. Through their systematic and sober multi-country study, the authors push for evidence-based responses, to avoid the kind of moral panic that in many societies is leading to hasty and ill-conceived regulation. * Cherian George, Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy *