AI, Social Media, and Political Influence – Intel on AI Season 3, Episode 11

Intel on AI

May 25 2022 • 33 mins


In this episode of Intel on AI host Amir Khosrowshahi talks with Joshua Tucker about using artificial intelligence to study the influence social media has on politics.

Joshua is professor of politics at New York University with affiliated appointments in the department of Russian and Slavic Studies and the Center for Data Science. He is also the director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia and co-director of the Center for Social Media and Politics. He was a co-author and editor of an award-winning policy blog at The Washington Post and has published several books, including his latest, where he is co-editor, titled Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field, Prospects for Reform from Cambridge University Press.

In the podcast episode, Joshua discusses his background in researching mass political behavior, including Colored Revolutions in Eastern Europe. He talks about how his field of study changed after working with his then PhD student Pablo Barberá (now a professor at the University of Southern California), who proposed a method whereby researchers could estimate people's partisanship based on the social networks in which they had enmeshed themselves. Joshua describes the limitations researchers often have when trying to study data on various platforms, the challenges of big data, utilizing NYU’s Greene HPC Cluster, and the impact that the leak of the Facebook Papers had on the field. He also describes findings regarding people who are more prone to share material from fraudulent media organizations masquerading as news outlets and how researchers like Rebekah Tromble (Director of the Institute for Data, Democracy and Politics at George Washington University) are working with government entities like the European Union on balancing public research with data privacy. The episode closes with Amir and Joshua discussing disinformation campaigns in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Academic research discussed in the podcast episode: