Hybrid digital methods for detecting and managing problematic automated agents in social media
Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program: Data
Automated agents, known as bots are widely used on the internet to run automated tasks. Whilst some bots are designed to perform beneficial activities, others are created for malicious purposes. The inauthentic coordination of bot activities is problematic and threatens to undermine online environments. We have very little understanding of how bots and high-volume accounts are policed and moderated by users themselves, and what drives people to create bots (both beneficial and malicious).
This project brings together qualitative domain expertise in digital media and platform studies with data science and machine learning to evaluate and improve attempts to detect and deal with problematic automated agents (bots) in social media. It addresses the question of how bots are moderated and perceived by the community, across platforms Twitter and Reddit.
This project provides insights about the dynamics and ethical aspects of large-scale bot activity, through a controversy analysis of the “anus fungi” phenomenon. It also studies the motivations for bot creators and the different kinds of social roles that bots have in the online information ecosystem and will deliver validated methods and software tools to help track disinformation and coordinated inauthentic behaviour.