Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion in Venezuela

Forelle, Michelle; Howard, Phil; Monroy-Hernández, Andrés; Savage, Saiph

Social and political bots have a small but strategic role in Venezuelan
political conversations. These automated scripts generate content through
social media platforms and then interact with people. In this preliminary study
on the use of political bots in Venezuela, we analyze the tweeting, following
and retweeting patterns for the accounts of prominent Venezuelan politicians
and prominent Venezuelan bots. We find that bots generate a very small
proportion of all the traffic about political life in Venezuela. Bots are used
to retweet content from Venezuelan politicians but the effect is subtle in that
less than 10 percent of all retweets come from bot-related platforms.
Nonetheless, we find that the most active bots are those used by Venezuela’s
radical opposition. Bots are pretending to be political leaders, government
agencies and political parties more than citizens. Finally, bots are promoting
innocuous political events more than attacking opponents or spreading