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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.


ADM+S Investigator Timothy Graham

Dr Timothy Graham

Lead Investigator

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Axel Bruns

Prof Axel Bruns

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nicolas Suzor

Chief Investigator

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Daniel Angus

Prof Dan Angus

Associate Investigator

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