Social Media, Ethics, and Automation#

Automation drives our experience of social media platforms, from timeline feeds to disinformation bots. This book examines social media phenomena, like viral memes, parasocial relationships, and harassment campaigns. This book then explores the ethics of automation on social media platforms by experimenting with computer programs that automate social media actions. We assume no prior programming experience.


This book is still being created and therefore has incomplete sections, missing citations, etc.

What this book is about:

  • Social Media

    • What it does, how it works, how people use it, different uses and abuses

  • Ethics

    • Individual Behaviors

    • Group Behaviors

    • Design and management decisions

  • Automation

    • Learn basic programming skills in Python

    • Create Reddit bots

    • Find and process information from Reddit

What we hope you gain from this book:

As a social media user, we hope you learn how social media sites influence you, from how your data gets used or abused, to how harassment and spam bots operate, to how platforms manipulate your emotions and mental state. We hope you could then be a more knowledgeable consumer and participant on social media sites.

As a member of a society that is influenced by social media, we hope you learn about the societal impact of automated social media systems, and how those systems are designed under different economic, social, and governmental pressures. We hope you could then be more knowledgeable in what you might advocate for or vote for in how social media sites operate.

As a potential tech worker that might work for a social media site, we hope you learn how to analyze the ethical tradeoffs made in designing automated systems. We hope you could then bring those concerns into how you design and implement automated systems for social media sites.