11/30: Samuel Woolley on Political Bots

Another great event (if I do say so myself) in the Technology & Society lecture series, Monday 11/30 at Lincoln Center!

Woolley Poster

The Technology & Society Lecture Series Presents:

Political [Bot]any:
Using Code to Manipulate Public Opinion

Samuel Woolley
University of Washington

November 30, 2015

11:30am – 12:45pm
Fordham Lincoln Center, Lowenstein South Hall

Political actors around the world are beginning to use social bots—automated software programs designed to interact with and imitate human users–to manipulate public opinion. Social bots have been used across numerous online platforms to spread various forms of propaganda, flood newsfeeds with political spam, and pad politicians’ social media follower lists. In many regimes, political leaders and government officials have commissioned bots to aggressively attack opponents, whether those opponents are civil society groups or the opposition candidates in rigged elections. The algorithms that run bot software are often proprietary and hidden, and the content that a particular bot produces might be unexpected—even by coders—because bots operate in collaboration with real users. This talk highlights the history and trajectory of political bots via the presentation of a globally comparative event dataset alongside information gathered in the field from the makers and trackers of this technology.

Samuel Woolley conducts research on politics, digital culture and automation at the University of Washington’s Department of Communication. Currently, he is investigating the global usage of political bots–software programs used to mimic human social media users in attempts to manipulate public opinion. He works as the project manager of CompProp at the Oxford Internet Institute and the Political Bots Project at UW. He is a graduate fellow at the Tech Policy Lab and the Center for Media, Data, and Society and a researcher on the Digital Activism Research Project, the New Pathways to Data Science Project, and at the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. Sam is based in Seattle and tweets from @samuelwoolley.

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