Commentary Essays

TechPresident:  Bad News Bots
Commentary Essays / In The News / TechPresident

TechPresident: Bad News Bots

(This originally appeared as “Bad News Bots” on Techpresident.)   It’s no secret that governments and political actors now make use of social robots or bots—automated scripts that produce content and mimic real users. Faux social media accounts now spread pro-governmental messages, beef up web site follower numbers, and causeartificial […]

Reuters:  Let’s Make Candidates Pledge Not to Use Bots
Commentary Essays / In The News / Reuters

Reuters: Let’s Make Candidates Pledge Not to Use Bots

(This originally appeared as “Let’s Make Candidates Pledge Not to Use Bots” on the Reuters Commentary Wire.) Bots — chunks of computer code that generate messages and replicate themselves — have been infecting political discourse around the world. They have been spotted try to influence elections in the United Kingdom, Mexico and just recently, South […]

Symposium Magazine:  When Does Digital Activism Pack a Punch?
Commentary Essays / Original Data / Other Public Writing

Symposium Magazine: When Does Digital Activism Pack a Punch?

We are starting to disseminate some of the findings from the USIP-supported Digital Activism Research Project.  One of the first pieces on the work is now up with Symposium Magazine: The past few decades have given scholars a rich collection of data that can help them analyze political change, whether […]

The Atlantic:  If Your Government Fails, Can You Create a New One With Your Phone?
Commentary Essays / In The News / The Atlantic

The Atlantic: If Your Government Fails, Can You Create a New One With Your Phone?

Myanmar is opening up politically, and among the first, largest civil society campaigns is a social movement organized over Facebook for cheaper cellphone calling plans. Syria has been locked in civil war for almost two years; despite the strife—or because of it—cellphone subscriptions have taken off. In Nairobi’s largest slum, […]