Socialbots and political actors? Autonomous communication technologies as tools and objects for digital sociology

Socialbots and political actors

This project explores and evaluates the simulation of social actors (“socialbots”) within political conversations on social media. While computer scientists have developed approaches for characterising and detecting socialbot activity, this project takes a sociological perspective by combining quantitative computational sociology with qualitative membership categorization analysis (MCA) and social-theoretical reasoning in order to assess whether, and how, it is possible to computationally simulate social actors and political citizens in social media environments.

Project team


  • Dr Timothy Graham
  • Robert Ackland, ANU
  • Florian Muhle, Bielefeld University (Germany)

Project funding

  • Universities Australia: Australia-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme (2017-2019)