Bots, #Strongerin, and #Brexit: Computational Propaganda During the UK-EU Referendum

6 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2016  

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

Bence Kollanyi

Corvinus University of Budapest - Doctoral School of Sociology and Social Policy

Date Written: June 20, 2016

Abstract

Bots are social media accounts that automate interaction with other users, and they are active on the StrongerIn-Brexit conversation happening over Twitter. These automated scripts generate content through these platforms and then interact with people. Political bots are automated accounts that are particularly active on public policy issues, elections, and political crises. In this preliminary study on the use of political bots during the UK referendum on EU membership, we analyze the tweeting patterns for both human users and bots. We find that political bots have a small but strategic role in the referendum conversations: (1) the family of hashtags associated with the argument for leaving the EU dominates, (2) different perspectives on the issue utilize different levels of automation, and (3) less than 1 percent of sampled accounts generate almost a third of all the messages.

Suggested Citation

Howard, Philip N. and Kollanyi, Bence, Bots, #Strongerin, and #Brexit: Computational Propaganda During the UK-EU Referendum (June 20, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798311

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

Bence Kollanyi

Corvinus University of Budapest - Doctoral School of Sociology and Social Policy ( email )

Fővám tér 8.
Hungary

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