I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of MIS at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. My dissertation focuses on understanding the use of bots and cyborgs for digital activism, whether they create echo chambers or not, and the ethics surrounding their use.
Bots are automated accounts in online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and they can be used in a variety of ways, as for example, to explore the dark web and to disseminate live news about earthquakes. Cyborgs are similar to bots with an important caveat - they are not 100% automated. Instead, cyborgs are hybrid (manual and automated) accounts.
I stumbled across my dissertation topic in 2013 while following, on Twitter, the Mensalão corruption protest happening in Brazil (my native country). My initial research question was: 'Who are the important users behind the Mensalão protest on Twitter?' Using social network analysis, I discovered there were four main actors. I kept digging (because I was curious) and to my surprise, I discovered that two of them were bots. They were programmed to retweet every tweet containing the hashtags #changebrazil and #vemprarua (come to the streets in Portuguese).
My adviser, Dr. Elena Karahanna, and I explicate the bot discovery and elaborate on its implications for research in a forthcoming article at the Academy of Management Discoveries. Our work has received great media attention, including stories at The Irish Times, Consumer Affairs, Engineering & Technology, and many others. See full list here.
With regards to my work in ethics, Dr. Nicholas Berente and I developed Bot Ethics, a procedure the general social media community can use to decide whether the actions of social bots are unethical. We also reflect on the work of Aristotle to provide some readily accessible guidance rooted in sound ethical thinking on culpability and in particular, on the question of 'who should be culpable (in the case of unethical action).' Our paper is forthcoming as a Viewpoint article at the Communications of the ACM. It will be available for readership in the September 2017 issue.
Feel free to contact me at any medium provided here, or at B427 Amos Hall, 630 South Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30602.