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Caught in the propaganda crossfire? Bots on social media

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my heart and I think she might be next
month and talked the
thought their everybody welcome to my talk on cotton propaganda crossfire bots on
social media and these are united I'm a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute and I'm very happy to see that some people came about this topic it was interesting so I will actually start my talk with the little confession I was very afraid of people would have won a show up to my talk so I thought it was nobody really knows me here I'm quite new to also it's a 3 already people probably already have been to the after party and it's still in the morning so you will see how it goes but and I thought they deserve a little confidence boost N I went on twitter and came up with the little PR appetizing strategy for myself
and I started this account here and I've actually tweet is a little
bit about a research and I've also talk to people that would we with the Republic a hashtag and wider than to my talk and and some of you also
talk to me and it sounds interesting so I was very sad about that but there is a little catch about this account here is actually that was
a and it actually was in a person like that this was a social media account was automated that was that was tweeting automatically and pretended to be a human and this is what we call the social what and social but apparently right now are all the rage for example the
guardian things that box are taking over world things things governments set the political agenda anymore but plots to and Angela Merkel is afraid of them so in my talk today I wanna get to the bottom of this epic elliptical headlines and talk a little bit about what what's actually
art Mr. really trapped in a propaganda crossfire and to do that 1st I wanna talk about propaganda itself with
propaganda digital spirit there's 1 problem it's incredibly different than it has been 4 and I think it's potentially more powerful than the propaganda that we're used to and that we know but let's 1st start with propaganda and the weights at this here is a
picture of propaganda In its where making propaganda is as old as politics art themselves this year's Alexander the Great and Alexander the Great all he's degrade that's what we know him for i she has won every battle he's a war hero and I think it's no coincidence that we know him as Alexander the Great that is so great it's because he actually insisted and traveling with the Legion of chroniclers that I wrote about the history that he had just made and of course he also dictated to history and told them what to write and what would be interesting and also were were for trade him in a good light and that way
Alexander the Great was actually 1 of the 1st ones to employ a large scale propaganda but again that has always had a history as going with the state of the media for example when the letter press was 1st Amendment propaganda for the
1st time became a much more large-scale phenomenon because with the letter press it can now reach more people the problem at that time was that people still couldn't we worry much so and most of her began a light here in a friend for evolution was actually pictures was caricaturist and obviously also because pictures work we get an appeal to emotion which also brings us to the next point to what is it a propaganda
1 so propaganda as something that is where emotional ones to appeal to people's feelings that wants to speak to people's hearts it's not something that is rational it's
not something that wants to speak to people's minds and that is exactly where the power of propaganda it's manipulative in way that kills the motions and not rational and also
propaganda wants to talk to the masses wants to polarize masses and wants to win the masses for its causes it's not something that targets and individual it's rather something that wants to establish 1 big common sense and mass so it's not worry surprising that when it targets to mass it would also target mass media and so propaganda has had a long history of working with mass media found for example in world war 2 and we have propaganda that was targeting the opponents of war that were demonized really in world war 2 I think 1 of the most prominent examples of propaganda worldwide Hitler and Goebbels and have propaganda that was essential to the totalitarian state for began at that time was everywhere it was in the newspapers it was on the radio it was in movies it was on this should be it was also in the uterus it was odd
propaganda that was on the present really also found in the GDR propaganda was very prominent as well and it was found mainly targeted toward capitalism or social socialism and that there's also many newer examples of propaganda that sometimes I think we seem to forget about for example propaganda during the Cold War is also propaganda in Afghanistan propaganda in Iraq the and
propaganda and dear by them it worse with the mass media and it also in the works with the kind of media that right now it's interesting to
people the media that people like to spend their time on where to get their information that else awaiting death entertainment so from propaganda started was was the word of mouth it was sermons it was songs it was chance there with the letter press it became more involved was principles caricaturist and then followed the radio at follow broadcasting full of movies and when I was looking for pictures and to prison for his talk I
actually found lots of nasty Donald Duck portions and I was quite surprised and also got the Internet is her again I didn't know that this was the thing on that and actually did some research and it
turns out of Walt Disney himself was also wary much in the propaganda system and they produce lots of Walt Disney Donald Duck propaganda movies during World War Two and so I think this only underlines my point that propaganda is written mediators that excites people and that attracts people like so and where is that media right now that people like to spend their time on it online it's social media it's
Facebook it's traded Instagram it's what's that also it's seen away bone it's really social media right now I think it's that engages people the most it's incredibly widespread their estimation that more than 80 per cent of US adults right now do you have 1 or more social media accounts few research estimates of more than 60 per cent of adults get their news and their information on social media every day and there's also a research that that that between 2 to 4
hours a day as spent on social media so social media is the media right now it is where we go to to get our entertainment it's we're we go to socialize but it's so much more than that to that's also were eager to generate content it's where we have discussions that is where we talk to people at the square reform of well it adjust written about politics propaganda is also a very key essential element of this we think and it works in the public sphere the public sphere that has emerged as social media so
social media as a new public spheres we at Oxford to we think there's many bright sites to social media as a public sphere with democracy with a new forum for discussions with the new form for forming
a pluralistic world but we also think that there's a downside to it and we think this downside is that social media might be much more prone to propaganda than at the media has been before and we describe this as computational propaganda
propaganda that works on social media and computation of and everything is many things and also many of the things that are heatedly debate of right now it's fake news it social
it's also micro targeting that all seems like those are hard issues right now after the US presidential elections but it's actually research that we have been doing for 2 to 3 years already so the question of course is what is
computation of propaganda and also why is it different than the propaganda that we know so at the wary Athens we still have the manipulation of opinion that is to worry key element of propaganda but and methods are different computational propaganda is data-driven so it's agent actually know something about the users that it's targeting but propaganda it knows this from social media most is from the likes that are generated from the content of people engage with and also from the content that people just like oneself engages with so propaganda on the
internet has the ability to use big data to actually approach people more directly and would pocket at the 2nd big thing automation and some automation and I'm actually means that it's not a single agent or a person that is behind the propaganda but it means that a person is targeted son is targeting in task in some sort of machine with automation and so propaganda is appearing as happening automatically it's still a person that is tasking your machine but then the scale that is provided by a machine goes far beyond that what we have known with propaganda as it was before and where's that happening it's happening on social media and social media that is not just a new media it's not just a popular media where people go to know look into right now that it's actually it's much more than that it's very different because it's also where people generate content it's this
revolution of the Internet has really been embodied by social media this user generation that everybody each and every 1 of us can easily produce content on social media we blocking share pictures which packs but the thing is now we can also not only share user-generated content but also user-generated propaganda the so now actually let's come back to social lots what this talk is supposed to be about
so social bots to remind you where there's Automated social media accounts that are pretending to be humans on social media so this here in the picture of an account that found active during the German
Presidency elections and also it has some of the key characteristics that social bots usually do this account here was very reactive it had 40 thousand feet thin since January 2006 and also has some of the other tell cell tells science for example the picture is not an actual human is oftentimes I the Twitter acts words and pictures of hard use of animals and does have he also clearly stated that it's a critical observer in realistic tested in an opposition party that is also something that we found to be quite typical and common and then if we were to scroll down a little bit we would also see that this the right wing content is very typical for boxers in social media in Germany but also in the US and Mexico in France most of the time it's right wing content that has been propagated some content that is where skeptical of the EU for Germany it's for example so we're skeptical in terms of refugees in terms of American that's who have you when looking at this account would have actually thought that this is the human would anyone have thought this was
human a series actually very few hands going up I think we have maybe a total of maybe 10 people a couple more OK so but this is what's
interesting so if people if only some people think that this is the human and many people here were already convinced that this is a part and it doesn't seem like to be such a big problem social bots if we can just educate people to distinguish them but this is the biggest misconception social bots are
not there is social bots not machines
they're engaging with people directly in that our talking to people not robots that are taken away on the internet so
this is really just a single biggest misconception about social but it's not that they directed that they interact directly with people on social media he worked with a more southerly so the usual user double encounter they bought will actually not speak to it directly and will not get to the point great even think about it to the pot or is this not about but box what's worked we more southerly they don't shape the direct interaction but the shape the environment that we're working on on social media and that we are engaging with so let's have a look into what is what what's actually do
so bots usually don't work alone box usually work with other bot friends and when the joined together we call it a blog network or a bot network and and they work together and the thing is they are really interested in creating mass so that again and that's worrisome there to what we were talking about propaganda and the mass media and there are really 3
key mechanisms that we found for parts the 1st of them is the amplification of issues that occurs whenever a bot makes the topics and bigger than it actually is that for example happens when a blocked retweets when a bottle like when a bot common it's really all those small things that are driving user interaction and they're bringing up scale it's also for example and a Twitter hashtag that is trending that has been brought to trends by bot amplification but why is that so
bad or why does setting back because just like in a couple of things on facebook is not essentially propaganda is it but the problem is that people that we actually interested in what other people are doing on social media online it's called social information so we're looking into whether the opinions that are dominant what'd opinion survey in the minority in for example if I proceed slave who need to be in the minority than and the less likely to speak out and when I think it I'm in the majority so it matters a lot to me for example found densification for social bots very active during the US election campaigning and also during the US debates resembled their robots that were treated after the campaign each trying to
say that either hillary 1 order from 1 and it's really also were those kind of battles are being decided and why is that where does that also been decided because we don't have multipliers that are looking to social media and as seen like 0 we think from 1 is the dominant hashtag so the people seem to think that this is this is actually the polling system and this is actually a would have work to see that from this
1 but this is really a vector misconceptions doesn't that is 1 of the dangers of amplification the multipliers acidic carrying out that agenda into the digital sphere not only but also into the media and on the political agenda then the 2nd big thing this distribution and box can distribute just about anything they can distribute very positive things for example I have suspected a couple of there are providing you with access to academic k papers that are being published you can also and there's a couple of fund lots there just tell you a funny things and jokes that are happening for example so but can be perfectly fine and it can even be funding and make life in social media more cooler more engaging that box can also distribute whatever
messages stable 1 at distribu so it can also be conspiracy theory it can be some very graphical portable images and for example we also found lots active during the the gate and was recently during my schoolmates so what's the
pivotal in what we think is distributing fake news then the 3rd component is flooding and flooding occurs when Adam Barth Earth targeting conversations are targeting hashtags and adjusts flooding them with content or perspective and why is that so
bad 1 example that is wary prominent occurred and during the Arab Spring during the Arab Spring activists have used hashtags actually coordinate with each other on the ground but then on the Syrian government found out about that and they use box to flood the hashtags and you prevent people from coordinating by social media so I know what some of you were thinking
about pregnant and its death is
to an already happening the Germany elections he seems to have had something in the US elections there's also some talk about that Russia has been evolved and French elections right now and that obviously is something that is of where we pick interest to us as citizens but also as researchers to see if there some hacking that is occurred during the elections in Germany so we
decided to look into computation of propaganda in Germany with regards to the elections in September and
I'm for that 1st started looking into the presidential election this year and 2 presidential election is not really the most interesting election there it's it's fairly presented and even before people actually voted people more less know who's going to be the President of Germany but it's still the closest thing that we have to actually look into what argues strategies like in Germany and what is happening in Germany and what we can use as a benchmark for the elections in the state elections and also for the elections in September office E so we went on social media some we collected a dataset of about 120 thousand feet that were in relation to the presidential elections and and
here you can actually see the elections and the results what was happening so and for those of you are not
the worst in German politics does what a fort white male candidates and spine better time I have and 1 he had 75 per cent roughly of the both stand 2nd came to the stuff but have they get the candidate of the ruling party with about 10 . 2 per cent of the world's then number 1 where interesting candidate and maybe you've seen a talk before and I think that's the name the data that item at the 3rd arch land and that is a party that is really he did see debated in Germany right now because it's the right wing party because it's races because it's rationalist because it is it is afraid of refugees because it is really a party that uses propaganda and it's a party that also
holds used that most of us would say are not democratic and he gained 3 . 6 per cent of the world and then number 4 is Alexander halt 18 the judge
for the Bible and he had to 2 per cent of the so we collected 120 thousand B. Favre in relation to the candidates into the presidential elections and we damn wanted to
see how big word different candidates on social media and the next flight shows that so some surprises
here something not super surprising fact but as time man had the largest amount of tweets that were generated about him he obviously was the candidate that 1 and she had roughly 40 5 of us and its use me 54 % of the tweets were generated about him then the stuff but the bigger and Alex horde who both had and filesystems preface and the load and hejust um also less than 5 per cent of the world not the word I'm sorry better off the conversation on Twitter but then add this to have a day the candidate that we had 3 . 6 per cent of the world he was huge and Twitter to he actually had 40 per cent of all conversations was about at this jazz up so with that in mind we
thought OK ITER these really controversially discussed on Twitter which it is or we thought the HTS where we act and Twitter has a lot of conversation which also appears for the 3rd sort of clever maybe social what's behind that so we're looking into the box factor
and wanted to see how much have social but actually contributed to these numbers and the answer is not very
much so in Germany we can see that the highlighted and part of
the picture is actually search shows how much of on the tweets were driven by automation for each of the candidates it's through somewhere between 5 and 15 per
cent which is not very much and also add those dose tweets were generated by 22 accounts only by were looking into roughly roughly 30 thousand accounts so it's incredibly unsubstantial the question now is does that mean that social parts are not an issue in germany at all well it either means we didn't find them or they were enacted during the elections in Germany but
it also something to bear in mind is that social parts can become active almost instantly so they can't read in real time and become active that is something to bear in mind but in general we can say Germany
on social bots during the elections maybe not so much right now and we're also looking into the state elections in our most recent research and there we also saw the same result social boss have not been very active in Germany in elections so far then we didn't stop there we also
took a further step I wanted to look into 1 of 2 of the hot and sexy issues right now which is the news and so we were looking into you else that being shared few the presidential elections and we found about 17 thousand fewer else and in each of the or else be categorized and actually looked into the content of 10 so we have categories like shopping we also had categories like personal food blogging or and also news political content and misinformation and what we thought there was not quite as coming so we
actually found a relationship of
information to jump news on social media afford 1 so for every political for every for political news content that was 1 fake news story that as compared to what we found in Michigan in the US where we found a ratio of 1 to 1 is that a relatively small but I still think it's substantial and it also shows that they can use a worry much issue in Germany too and not just in the USA and what is more we're also looking into
some of the pages that we're generating the content and we can see that they really had an agenda about I would say 95 per cent of what we were seeing was writing content was quantum again that was and high immigration that was racist was
nationalist and it also it was a bright spot it also wasn't any kind of American news publications that were just being posted in Germany to it was original content it originated in Germany
which I think is an incredible incredible revelation to and then
so the question is not every no computation propaganda is an issue it's an issue internationally it's an issue in Germany where fake news were drunk you seems to be an issue of for maybe social bots are not as much an issue right now but technically could become active at any time so I personally see myself as a
researcher and I don't think that I'm in a qualify position to give any kind
of policy recommendations of of what we should do and what should be done in terms to does phenomena but I think I'm in a pretty good position to say what we cannot do and what we shouldn't you and the 1st thing that we can do is attribution and attribution actually means that he's when ever is the propaganda technique digital sphere is occurring made at the the social body made at the fake means it's very hard to tell word that contain actually originated from we can tell whether it was Russia that can tell whether it was just a Macedonian king who wanted to make some money and the site and as 1 of the issues because he can find a culprit behind those phenomena that you can say like you're responsible for you you need to be thrown into jail or whatever and that is not actually where our politics our reacting a little bit anxiously because they think if we cannot find the
people that are responsible then maybe we should look at all the people on the Internet and that is 1 of the big trends right now it's regulation it's things like that nets vector systems that's and it's lost its content filtering it is all that regulation that greedy aiming into the freedom of expression online which is ironic because that is exactly what it tries to protect and then the 3rd variable and the sort of trend that has emerged is putting platforms and Trietsch thing that Facebook that would there should be responsible of
what content is propagated on their platforms and what should be allowed to do data but if you actually let's Facebook and Twitter decided what content is true then they do just that they decide what is true and they can dictate their truths so I think that is also highly problematic so thinking about if we can do all that
then what can we do I think it's within this conference if we can say we can love of allowed to live events and sound like that do you think there
some contribution here that I think right now what is more pivotal and and
what is really important is just creating media literacy is obviously it's something that of long term and nothing that we can the approach in a short-term perspective but I think it's very important that people on the Internet understand the of propaganda is a phenomenon and it's even more important that the multipliers that journalists and politicians that opinion factors that they understand computation of propaganda is happening on social media and that they cannot take for granted what they see in social media and you that and bring it out and transported into the media and transported into the broad political public sphere thank you very
much
OK and we still have just a few minutes but if there are some reasons questions you'd like to ask and we can come to you and you can ask them right now also can I see some hands any questions at this point for a user manual no questions alright and thanks again for an amazing talk and see later how they're
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Metadaten

Formale Metadaten

Titel Caught in the propaganda crossfire? Bots on social media
Serientitel re:publica 2017
Anzahl der Teile 234
Autor Neudert, Lisa-Maria
Lizenz CC-Namensnennung - Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland:
Sie dürfen das Werk bzw. den Inhalt zu jedem legalen Zweck nutzen, verändern und in unveränderter oder veränderter Form vervielfältigen, verbreiten und öffentlich zugänglich machen, sofern Sie den Namen des Autors/Rechteinhabers in der von ihm festgelegten Weise nennen und das Werk bzw. diesen Inhalt auch in veränderter Form nur unter den Bedingungen dieser Lizenz weitergeben.
DOI 10.5446/33010
Herausgeber re:publica
Erscheinungsjahr 2017
Sprache Englisch

Inhaltliche Metadaten

Fachgebiet Informatik
Abstract Computational propaganda – the use of information technologies for political manipulation – is on the rise. Social bots are crucial instruments in digital attacks: During the US elections 20% of all Twitter traffic was generated by them; and Trump bots outnumbered Clinton bots 5:1. During Brexit 1% of accounts drove nearly 1/3 of all traffic. Both state and non-state political actors have used bots to manipulate conversations, demobilize opposition, and generate false support on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram. Are bots weapons in a (cold) cyberwar? How are the used in the Bundestagswahl 2017?

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