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Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Venezuela

8 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2015  

Michelle C Forelle

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; New York University (NYU) - Department of Culture and Communication

Philip N. Howard

University of Washington - Department of Communication; University of Washington - Henry. M. Jackson School of International Studies; University of Washington - The Information School; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute

Andres Monroy-Hernandez

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research - Redmond; University of Washington

Saiph Savage

National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

Date Written: July 25, 2015

Abstract

Social and political bots have a small but strategic role in Venezuelan political conversations. These automated scripts generate content through social media platforms and then interact with people. In this preliminary study on the use of political bots in Venezuela, we analyze the tweeting, following and retweeting patterns for the accounts of prominent Venezuelan politicians and prominent Venezuelan bots. We find that bots generate a very small proportion of all the traffic about political life in Venezuela. Bots are used to retweet content from Venezuelan politicians but the effect is subtle in that less than 10 percent of all retweets come from bot-related platforms. Nonetheless, we find that the most active bots are those used by Venezuela’s radical opposition. Bots are pretending to be political leaders, government agencies and political parties more than citizens. Finally, bots are promoting innocuous political events more than attacking opponents or spreading misinformation.

Keywords: bots, twitter, Venezuela, Social Media, political communication

Suggested Citation

Forelle, Michelle C and Howard, Philip N. and Monroy-Hernandez, Andres and Savage, Saiph, Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Venezuela (July 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2635800

Michelle C Forelle

University of Southern California - Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

3502 Watt Way, Suite 304
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Culture and Communication ( email )

239 Greene St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003-1836
United States

Philip N. Howard (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Department of Communication ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States
2062216532 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.philhoward.org

University of Washington - Henry. M. Jackson School of International Studies ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 353350
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Andres Monroy-Hernandez

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research - Redmond ( email )

Building 99
Redmond, WA
United States

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Saiph Savage

National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) ( email )

Circuito Mario de la Cueva s/n
Lomas de las Palmas, 52760
Mexico

HOME PAGE: http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~saiph/

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