Samantha Bradshaw is a D.Phil. candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. She is also a Researcher on the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow at the Canadian International Council. Samantha studies the relationship between social media and democracy. In particular, her work examines government use of social media for coordinated digital disinformation campaigns. Her research has been featured by numerous media outlets, including the Washington Post, CNN, Bloomberg, the Financial Times and Mother Jones. She holds an MA in global governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and a joint honors BA in political science and legal studies from the University of Waterloo.
Industry Expertise (2)
Media - Online
Areas of Expertise (7)
Human Rights Online
Social Media and Democracy
University of Oxford: Ph.D., Information, Communication and Social Sciences
University of Waterloo: M.A., Global Governance, Global Security 2013
University of Waterloo: B.A., Political Science and Legal Studies 2012
- The Canadian International Council, Senior Fellow
- Computational Propaganda Research Project, University of Oxford
Media Appearances (6)
Fake news rife on Twitter during election week, study from Oxford says
CNN Media online
"We found that in the swing states there was a higher concentration of this highly polarizing content," Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher who worked on the study, told CNN...
Trump-Russia investigation may target Reddit posts, says senator's aide
The Guardian online
“[Reddit] is one of the forums that some of the coordinated information campaigns happened on,” Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher at Oxford University, told the Hill. Bradshaw studies how governments use social media to influence public opinion, and said she had witnessed patterns on the site that suggested a deliberate effort to distribute false news ...
Facebook pushed to publicly release Russian-connected ads
The Hill online
“[Showing the ads] might just create more fear, lower levels of trust, and give the Russian government more credit than they deserve for what happened in 2016,” said Samantha Bradshaw, a researcher at the University of Oxford who has explored how governments use social media to influence people ...
Spreading fake news becomes standard practice for governments across the world
The Washington Post online
Howard said he and the report’s other lead researcher, Oxford’s Samantha Bradshaw, were struck by how much of the propaganda activity and innovation happened in Western-style democracies, including Britain, the United States, Israel, Australia and Mexico ...
Government 'Cyber Troops' Manipulate Facebook, Twitter, Study Says
Governments around the world are enlisting "cyber troops" who manipulate Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to steer public opinion, spread misinformation and undermine critics, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.
Putin’s Pro-Trump Trolls Just Targeted Hillary Clinton and Robert Mueller
Mother Jones online
Russian bots and trolls on Twitter have stayed plenty busy lately. In the days before charges against three former Trump campaign officials were unsealed on Monday, Russian influencers tracked by the Hamilton 68 dashboard were pushing stories on Twitter about “collusion” between Russia and Hillary Clinton—a narrative regarding a 2010 sale of uranium rights that has long since been debunked. According to the nonpartisan security research project, a week’s worth of tweets from late October turned up a wave of content with “some variation on a theme of corruption, collusion, cover-up by the Clinton-led State Department and/or the Mueller-led FBI,” as well as content attacking special counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey. And since Friday, when news reports made clear that the special counsel’s team was moving ahead with indictments, the dashboard began registering a sharp increase in attacks specifically against Mueller.
Event Appearances (5)
Global Trends in Digital Disinformation
National Democratic Institute Board Meeting Washington D.C.
Troops, Trolls and Trouble Makers: A Global Inventory of Social Media Manipulation Paper
Association of Internet Researchers Conference Tartu, Estonia, 2017
The DNS Blackbox and Individual Privacy
Association of Internet Researchers Conference: The Internet Rules, But How? Berlin, Germany
Trust and Internet Governance. Paper
10th Annual GigaNet Conference Joao Pessoa, Brazil
The Politicization of the Internet’s Domain Name System
European Consortium for Political Research Montreal, Canada
The increasing visibility and sophistication of cyber attacks, coupled with the global interconnection and dependence of the Internet, has created a need not only for specialized skills in the prevention of and response to cyber attacks but also for cooperation on a global scale. A “cyber regime complex” is emerging as governments, the private sector, the technical community and non-governmental organizations cooperate to secure cyberspace. Computer security incident response teams (CSIRTs) are key actors in the cyber regime complex that help the broader Internet community prevent and respond to cyber incidents through incident analysis and response, information sharing and dissemination, and skills training. Teams generally agree that cooperation could be strengthened through the enhanced and timely exchange of cyber threat information. However, a number of complex legal questions and a lack of trust among community members have discouraged sharing. This paper examines the role of CSIRTs in the emerging cyber regime complex and asks what might be driving the lack of trust and information sharing within the community. The commercialization of cyber security and threat vulnerabilities, the Internet’s development as a new power domain, the growth of the CSIRT community and the emergence of a cyber regime complex are examined as factors that are giving rise to and exacerbating existing problems around information sharing and trust.
Encryption technology, and associated questions around freedom of speech, national security and privacy, have been at the forefront of discussions at the 2015 Internet Governance Forum.
Encryption is used to secure online communications and works by scrambling data sent across the network so that only intended recipients can access it. It is a fundamental technology for establishing trust on the Internet, as it prevents unlawful or unauthorized access by a third party, making it essential for upholding and protecting freedom of speech, privacy and security online.
Digital diplomacy has been heralded as 21st century statecraft. It involves using the Internet and social media platforms to communicate with citizens, businesses and non-state actors; promote national values; and build public support for policy goals or strategies.
In a world where everyone is increasingly connected, the ability to gather and share information to wide audiences at unprecedented rates has created new opportunities for policy leaders and government departments to share messages and set political agendas beyond traditional channels. While conventional forms of diplomacy still dominate both the domestic and foreign policy landscape, an increasing number of governments are utilizing technology as a new tool for communication, information gathering, and the promotion of values both at home and abroad.
Governments, information and telecommunication companies, international organizations and humanitarian aid agencies are embracing data as a new tool that will revolutionize the way we address some of the world’s most serious problems, including food shortages and price volatility, financial crises, disease outbreaks and human rights violations. Real-time data from cellular providers, social media networks and other similar sources can be mined and analyzed, allowing policy makers to gain unique insights into these problems. Information from these so-called “big data” sets can be used to develop better policy; however, there are privacy and security risks. Without sufficient resources to identify, analyze and address these risks as big data use increases, the pursuit of data for development could become counterproductive in terms of improving the life chances of the world’s poorest, moving us one step forward and two steps back.
Big Data — an umbrella term encompassing the collection, retention and use of a massive volume and variety of data about individuals — presents a number of unique challenges that are increasingly undermining privacy rights. Canada’s Personal Information and Electronic Documents Ac (PIPEDA) established a legal foundation for protecting the online privacy rights of individuals, but new safeguards should be put in place to further prevent loss or resale of data, surveillance and tracking of an individual’s location, and misuse of data by corporate actors. Authors of the eighth Junior Fellows policy brief, Samantha Bradshaw, Kyle Harris and Hyla Zeifman, recommend that there be clearer guidelines indicating the length of time for storage of data; reinforced benefits to storing privacy-sensitive Canadian data on local clouds, to prevent jurisdictional privacy and security risks; clear and accessible Terms of Service agreements; and limits on third-party sharing and resale of collected data.