Understanding Bots


While everyone is now writing about ‘bots,’ ‘trolls’, and disinformation, these has been a lack of clarity and granularity in the way these concepts are used and researched. First, what are bots, really? What do competing definitions of the term amongst different groups of scholars tell us, and what are the ensuing challenges for regulation? My master’s thesis and other work conducted at the Oxford Internet Institute sought to produce a political economy of the social media bot, and to provide conceptual clarity and guidance into how researchers and policymakers can understand ‘bots’ in an era of bot-disclosure laws and other proposed legislation.

Main Project Output

Robert Gorwa, Douglas Guilbeault. Unpacking the Social Media Bot: A Typology to Guide Research and Policy. Policy & Internet, 2018.


. Prayer-Bots and Religious Worship on Twitter: A Call for a Wider Research Agenda. Minds & Machines 29 (2), 331–338, 2019.

Project Open Access

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

Project OUP Google Books

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

Project Report