Lie Machines

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

Philip N. Howard

Artificially intelligent “bot” accounts bolster or berate politicians on Twitter. Conspiracy theorists publish junk news sites to promote their bunk. Campaigners create fake dating profiles to attract young voters. In Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives (May 19, 2020 publication date), author Philip N. Howard delves into and exposes the technologies that jeopardize, in turn, our attention, our discourse, and our democracies.

Howard defines a lie machine as “a system of people and technologies that distribute false messages in the service of a political agenda.” Harnessing information garnered from polling data, internet postings, and interviews with journalists, bot writers, and political consultants, Howard offers a way to identify and derail these “lie machines.”

Full of riveting behind‑the‑scenes stories from the world’s biggest and most damagingly successful misinformation initiatives—including those used in Brexit and the U.S. presidential election—Howard not only shows how these campaigns have evolved from older propaganda operations but also gives new insight into why they are so effective at swaying public opinion.


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Philip N. Howard

Philip N. Howard is a professor and writer. He teaches at the University of Oxford and directs the Oxford Internet Institute. He writes about information politics and international affairs, and he is the author of eight books, including The Managed Citizen, Pax Technica, and i. He has won multiple “best book” awards, and his research and commentary writing has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and many international media outlets. Foreign Policy magazine named him a “Global Thinker” for 2018 and the National Democratic Institute awarded him their “Democracy Prize” for pioneering the social science of fake news. His latest book is Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives. He blogs at www.philhoward.org and tweets from @pnhoward.

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