Lie Machines


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How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives

Philip N. Howard

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Technology is breaking politics—what can be done about it?
Artificially intelligent “bot” accounts attack politicians and public figures on social media. Conspiracy theorists publish junk news sites to promote their outlandish beliefs. Campaigners create fake dating profiles to attract young voters. We live in a world of technologies that misdirect our attention, poison our political conversations, and jeopardize our democracies. With massive amounts of social media and public polling data, and in-depth interviews with political consultants, bot writers, and journalists, Philip N. Howard offers ways to take these “lie machines” apart.
Lie Machines is full of riveting behind-the-scenes stories from the world’s biggest and most damagingly successful misinformation initiatives—including those used in Brexit and U.S. elections. Howard not only shows how these campaigns evolved from older propaganda operations but also exposes their new powers, gives us insight into their effectiveness, and explains how to shut them down.

Philip N. Howard is director of the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of nine books, including Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up, which was praised in the Financial Times as “timely and important.” He is a frequent commentator on the impact of technology on political life, contributing to the New York Times, Financial Times, and other media outlets.

"Could not be more timely and important; and its central premise—that this new stage in the evolution of the web has political implications that will match or even outstrip its commercial ones—is both striking and convincing."—Felix Martin, Financial Times, praise for Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

"Lie Machines is an important account of the corruption of online information flows, offering up a bounty of lively, action-oriented reflections on the vulnerabilities inherent in today's digital communications architecture."—Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of International Law and Professor of Computer Science, Harvard University

Lie Machines presents Howard’s cutting-edge research on disinformation and computational propaganda in a vivid, compelling manner. The book is a tour de force analysis of grave threats to democracy, and how to defuse them.”— Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society

Lie Machines takes on one of the great challenges of the digital age. Refusing to wallow in the dystopia of it all, Howard produces a must-read for the moment and a blueprint for the future.”—David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

“A compelling read. Howard relates a complex subject in simple and convincing terms, producing a prescient and socially significant work.”—Zizi Papacharissi, author of A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age

"The single best explanation of what's really going on in 21st century disinformation practice."—Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants and The Master Switch

Lie Machines is a fascinating read, packed with deep dives into the mechanics and personalities behind modern misinformation. The solutions that Howard proposes deserve serious consideration, too. It's powerful book from a leading thinker in the field.”—Clive Thompson, author of Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

"Philip Howard has spent quality time under the hood of the modern lie machine - and it shows. In this detailed but eminently readable tour of today’s information environment, he rolls up his sleeves to explain the machine’s cogs, gears, and what makes it hum, from Russia to Brazil and beyond.  For those who have long relied on the dictum “truth will out,” Howard’s insights into the complex interplay between data and disinformation should serve as a sobering corrective. But he also lights the way to a saner tomorrow, offering up civic defense tips, ideas for collective action, and other innovative ways to “future-proof” democracy against the machines we have created."—Shanthi Kalathil, co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule
ISBN: 9780300250206
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
240 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Pax Technica

How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

Philip N. Howard

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