Platform governance of and by bots

Project Summary

This project brings together expertise in digital media, platform studies, and law with data science and machine learning to study the roles and data operations of bots – pre-programmed automated agents – on social media platforms. It aims to map, describe and evaluate the ways that platforms and their users make use of automated agents in governance and community management, and the competing norms and values associated with these practices.

It also examines how platforms and their communities engage in the governance of bots, including through automated moderation and technical limitations. We expect to develop new methods for the public oversight and evaluation of platform governance; as well as to understand why and how bots are understood, valued, and managed in online communities, and to suggest the implications for the benefits of bots for transparent platform governance, including by user communities.

The objectives of this project include:

  1. Undertake a detailed empirical investigation of the role of ‘official’, sanctioned, and user-created bots in governing and managing platform cultures, and the implications of these uses of bots for equality, transparency, and user experience.
  2. Through the data-driven analysis of a particular bot-related controversy, conduct a detailed case study of the norms attached to ‘coordination’ and ‘bot-like’ (or ‘inauthentic’) behaviour on Reddit, and how these norms are enacted and contested through community-led platform governance.
  3. Develop new and updated frameworks for identifying and promoting the pro-social and beneficial uses of bots by platforms and their user communities.

DMRC research program

This project contributes to the research within the following DMRC research programs:

Governing Digital Societies

Computational Communication and Culture


Project team


Project outputs


Project funding

  • Australian Government through the Australian Research Council – ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S)