Political Parties, Politicians, and Political Manipulation on Social Media (Oxford Studies in Digital Politics)
By Samuel C. Woolley
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."