Automation, Algorithms, and Politics | Keeping Ottawa Honest—One Tweet at a Time? Politicians, Journalists, Wikipedians and Their Twitter Bots

Heather Ford, Elizabeth Dubois, Cornelius Puschmann


WikiEdits bots are a class of Twitter bot that announce edits made by Wikipedia users editing under government IP addresses, with the goal of making government editing activities more transparent. This article examines the characteristics and impact of transparency bots, bots that make visible the edits of institutionally affiliated individuals by reporting them on Twitter. We map WikiEdits bots and their relationships with other actors, analyzing the ways in which bot creators and journalists frame governments’ participation in Wikipedia. We find that, rather than providing a neutral representation of government activity on Wikipedia, WikiEdits bots and the attendant discourses of the journalists that reflect the work of such bots construct a partial vision of government contributions to Wikipedia as negative by default. This has an impact on the public discourse about governments’ role in the development of public information, a consequence that is distinct from the current discourses that characterize transparency bots.


Wikipedia, Twitter bots, algorithmic politics, journalism

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