Lisa-Maria Neudert on propaganda with social bots

11. Mai 2017
Name: Lisa-Maria Neudert
Position: Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute
Thema: Social Bots and their impact in propaganda and politics

How big is the influence of social bots on propaganda and shaping political opinions of the people?

Propaganda is a part of politics as long as humans can remember. But with the technological tools of today, we have to face a completely new kind of propaganda.
“Computational propaganda”, as Lisa-Maria Neudert, Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, calls it, is data-driven and therefore much more targeted on a specific part of the audience to which it is directly distributed.

The automation with machines and programs, so called “bots”, offers not only quicker distribution but also a tremendous mass of content. This can shape what we see in everyday life on the internet, for example in the social media. These social bots can amplify the amount of attention a topic gets or generate fake conversations, when different bots act together and answer each other.

What can be done against bots? There are already regulational efforts by the platforms to analyze the traffic and accounts and delete those that can be identified as bots. Also lots of political pressure is put into this topic, as not only the states themselves work on regulational laws but there are also efforts by the European Union to work together against disinformation and social bots.

While social bots were not that active in the german political elections, the ratio of real politcal news compared to fake news was 4:1. Compared to the US, where the ratio was 1:1, so as much fake news as there were real news, this number does not seem that high, but still substantial enough to perform disinformation campagnes.

More on politicalbots.org (website of the research project)

Lisa-Maria Neudert in the Netzpolitik-Podcast (german)

DiskussionsimpulsePolitikre:publicaSoziale Netzwerke