Social media platforms have become tools for manipulating public opinion during elections. In particular, “bots” are algorithms that automate rapid, widespread interactions with citizens, often with deleterious effects on public knowledge of science, social inequality, and public policy options. Through the ERC COMPROP Consolidator award, researchers have demonstrated that even simple bots (i) effectively keep negative messages and fake news in circulation longer (ii) target journalists and civil society groups and (iii) operate with little oversight from social media firms. Such algorithms have negative consequences both for public trust in technology innovation and for the quality of public deliberation in Europe’s democracies. ERC researchers have been able to identify highly automated, politically-manipulative social media accounts post hoc. This project will allow researchers to take what we have learned and produce an online tool that allows people to evaluate suspicious social media accounts. Most social media platforms are slow to address troll and bot activity, so this innovative tool will put ERC research into public service in Europe—and around the world.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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