Nowadays it’s hard to imagine someone who doesn’t use social media in one way or another. They are far beyond from being just tools for entertainment. Social media give us a tool for political engagement: a revolution can start with one tweet as, for example, recent Ukranian political history shows us. Also, they are massively used for public opinion manipulation.
Oxford Internet Institute has published the first systematic collection and analysis of country-specific case studies geared towards exposing and analyzing digital misinformation and computational propaganda.
The study was conducted within the framework of DisinfoWeek (June 19-30, 2017).
The authors conclude that bots – software designed to artificially amplify messages on social networks – “are often key tools in propelling disinformation across sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and beyond”.
Authoritarian governments direct computational propaganda at their own population and at populations in other countries. In democracies, individual users design and operate fake and highly automated social media accounts, the study says.
” Anonymous political actors harness key elements of computational propaganda such as false news reports, coordinated disinformation campaigns, and troll mobs to attack human rights defenders, civil society groups, and journalists. Computational propaganda is one of the most powerful new tools against democracy,” – the analysis says.
This issue seems even bigger considering nationwide upcoming general elections in late 2017 (Germany) and 2018 (Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, Russia).