Algorithms and Automation

Automation is a crucial tool of many disinformation campaigns, while algorithms are the complex sets of rules that affect what we see online. Because algorithms are designed by humans, they may reproduce biases and ideologies while making those biases seem naturalResearchers are also exploring how algorithms and automation can be used to study misinformation or counter malicious uses of the same kinds of tools. 

Live Research Review

Automated devices permeate our lives, from our toasters to Siri. The promise has been that automation and algorithms will make our lives simpler, and help us find the things we want in an increasingly connected world. But we now realize that on social media platforms, algorithms and automation can be used to spread disinformation further and faster.

Teaching & Learning

Explore course modules, handouts, teaching tools and syllabi about dis- and misinformation.

Latest News on Algorithms and Automation

A pink slime has been spreading across America. At last count, it has infested more than 1,200 sites. Pink-slime news sites, that is. The name comes from being the journalistic equivalent of the beef industry’s byproduct called pink slime, a.k.a., Lean, Finely Textured Beef, used as filler in frozen and fast foods. Don’t be fooled […]

The ideal scenario for the modern propagandist, of course, is to have convincing personas produce original content. Generative text is the next frontier. Released in a beta version in June by the artificial-intelligence research lab OpenAI, a tool called GPT-3 generates long-form articles as effortlessly as it composes tweets, and its output is often difficult […]

While social media make it easy to connect with and access information from anyone, they also facilitate basic influence and unfriending mechanisms that may lead to segregated and polarized clusters known as “echo chambers.” Here we study the conditions in which such echo chambers emerge by introducing a simple model of information sharing in online […]

Climate-intensified wildfires that changed the lived reality of a large majority of Australians in horrific and unforgettable ways triggered an unprecedented immune response to deny reality and a chance at serious climate change. American conservatives have been mostly silent on the wildfires so far, but the Australian experience suggests there’s a risk of misinformation flaring […]

The idea of algorithmic manipulation schemes brainwashing large swaths of the US electorate online is a nice way to explain the polarized nature of American public opinion. But experts say it’s actually pretty unlikely that targeted political advertising has had much influence on voter behavior at all. […] Source: Why Facebook’s political-ad ban is taking […]

Featured Scholars

Lecturer in Data Analytics in Social Sciences at the Department of Government and IR (School of Social and Political Sciences) at the University of Sydney
Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Harvard Kennedy School, Technology and Social Change Research Project