Research Areas & Projects

Platform Governance

How do platforms govern, and how should they be governed?

Cybersecurity

How do private actors shape the global cybersecurity conversation?

Bots

What is the political economy of online automation?

Public Writing

Essays

  • “Facebook’s Decency Conundrum.” Wired Magazine (UK), November/December 2018.
  • “Platform Moderation and Its Discontents.” Los Angeles Review of Books, August 2018.
  • “Tinder Nightmares: The Promise and Peril of Political Bots.” Wired (UK), July 2017 (with Doug Guilbeault).
  • “Quantum Leap: China’s Satellite and the New Arms Race.” Foreign Affairs, September 2016 (with Taylor Owen).

Commentary

  • “Twitter has a serious bot problem, and Wikipedia might have the solution.” Quartz, October 23, 2017.
  • “Facebook could tell us how Russia interfered in our elections. Why won’t it?” The Washington Post, May 20, 2017 (with Phil Howard).
  • “On the Internet, Nobody Knows That You’re A Russian Bot.” Council on Foreign Relations NetPolitics. March 20, 2017.
  • “The Security Risk Our Connected Devices Pose Urgently Requires a Policy Response.” OpenCanada, November 4, 2016.
  • “Don’t Underestimate the Implications of Quantum Technology.” World Politics Review, October 3, 2016 (with Taylor Owen).

Journal Articles

Amidst widespread reports of digital influence operations during major elections, policymakers, scholars, and journalists have become increasingly interested in the political impact of social media ‘bots.’ Most recently, platform companies like Facebook and Twitter have been summoned to testify about bots as part of investigations into digitally-enabled foreign manipulation during the 2016 US Presidential election. Facing mounting pressure from both the public and from legislators, these companies have been instructed to crack down on apparently malicious bot accounts. But as this article demonstrates, since the earliest writings on bots in the 1990s, there has been substantial confusion as to exactly what a ‘bot’ is and what exactly a bot does. We argue that multiple forms of ambiguity are responsible for much of the complexity underlying contemporary bot-related policy, and that before successful policy interventions can be formulated, a more comprehensive understanding of bots — especially how they are defined and measured — will be needed. In this article, we provide a history and typology of different types of bots, provide clear guidelines to better categorize political automation and unpack the impact that it can have on contemporary technology policy, and outline the main challenges and ambiguities that will face both researchers and legislators concerned with bots in the future.
Policy & Internet, 2018.

Other Publications

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(2019). Glasnost? Nine ways Facebook can make itself a better forum for free speech and democracy. Oxford, UK: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

PDF Project

(2018). Tech Companies as Cybersecurity Norm Entrepreneurs: A Critical Analysis of Microsoft’s Cybersecurity Tech Accord. Hague Conference on Responsible Behaviour in Cyberspace, (The Hague, November 5-7).

Project SocArXiv

(2018). Unpacking the Ecosystem of Social Media Manipulation: A Polish Case Study. Computational Propaganda: Political Parties, Politicians, and Political Manipulation on Social Media, ed. Samuel Woolley and Philip Howard. Oxford University Press.

Project OUP Google Books

(2018). Towards Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Platform Governance. Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Annual Conference (Montreal, October 10-13).

Project

(2018). Studying Politically Vulnerable Communities Online: Ethical Dilemmas, Questions, and Solutions. ICWSM Workshop on Exploring Ethical Trade-offs in Social Media Research (Stanford, June 25).

arXiv

(2018). What Should We Do About Political Automation? Challenges for Policy and Research. International Communication Association (Prague, May 24-28).

Project arXiv

(2018). Current Challenges for Bot Policy and Foreign Interference. Washington, DC: Campaign Legal Centre.

Project Report