The Algorithmic Democracy

The day before the election, as millions of Americans were feeling confident that the vast majority of the country shared their opinions, a pair of researchers at the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute published a paper that looked closely at something many of us ignored: the provenance of political tweets. Where do they come from? How many are, in reality, made by humans? And if not, who is designing these crude straw-bots? Analyzing Twitter during three televised debates, they discovered that 20% of all political tweets were made by bots. Their patterns and provenance, both pro-Clinton and pro-Trump, were mysterious. Georgia dramatically outpaces any other state when it comes to producing bots. (“We have no evidence of who’s behind the [Georgian] bots,” says author Emilio Ferrara over email.)…


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