Propaganda in Bahrain, Syria

About the Author:

Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is the Director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She writes regularly about free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world.

During the uprisings that swept Tunisia and Egypt in 2011, digital activists’ main adversary were their governments which, in the case of the former, censored scores of websites and conducted man-in-the-middle attacks on Facebook users and, in the case of the latter, shut down the Internet entirely after two days of protests shook the capital. Continue reading

When the News Comes from Political Tweetbots

About the Author:

Eni Mustafaraj

Eni Mustafaraj

Norma Wilentz Hess fellow of Computer Science at Wellesley College

In July 2010, the blogger Andrew Breitbart wrote a long blog post with a short video excerpt from a speech by Shirley Sherrod. The post went viral and Ms. Sherrod was forced to resign from her U.S. Department of Agriculture position. Afterwards, it was revealed that the excerpt was taken out of context and the accusations were false, but, alas, the damage was done. I’m recalling this story, because in a previous post in this blog, Tim Hwang raised the following issue in the context of astroturfing campaigns:

A deeper problem is one of assigning responsibility – even when revealed, one common issue is the difficulty of figuring out who exactly launched these campaigns in the first place. Continue reading

Misinformation and Propaganda in Cyberspace

About the Author:

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas is a Professor of Computer Science and Founder of the Media Arts and Sciences Program at Wellesley College.

Since the early days of the discipline, computer scientists have always been interested in developing environments that exhibit well-understood and predictable behavior. If a computer system were to behave unpredictably, then we would look into the specifications and we would, in theory, be able to detect what went wrong, fix it, and move on.  Continue reading