Posted on October 31, 2018

Department of Mass Communication at the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University (QU) organized recently a scientific seminar titled “Digital Identities and Electronic Bots,” which was attended by a group of professors, researchers and professionals in the communication field in the state of Qatar.

The seminars goal is to examine the political, ethical and cultural issues that rises in the field of artificial intelligence, particularly in the programming of electronic bots, which are implemented with the aim of creating propaganda and steering public opinion. The seminar consisted of two sessions, the first of which tackled digital identities and electronic bots and how they influence audiences. The second is entitled “Ideological Devices and Misleading Political Opinion.” The sessions discussed the extent to which electronic communication platforms are misused to sway public opinion, by way of fake IP addresses and false identities. The seminar also discussed the necessity of recognizing the seriousness of such crimes and its impact on the social and political spheres.

Dr. Noureddine Miladi, Head of the Mass Communication Department at QU, said: “This seminar tackles issues that have become our reality and we cannot ignore. That reality is the influence of the virtual domain on public opinion in both the Arab world and beyond. This seminar opens up new avenues for discussion because of the repercussions of this reality on politics and economics.”

He adds, “An essential component of our role in the Department of Mass Communication at QU, is being an active participant in the context of political, economic and social climates. Electronic bots, identities and disinformation have become a phenomenon of their own in all communities, but particularly those in the information technology field. There are many widespread examples of this such as the electronic armies working against Qatar or in other places, such as what happened in the last US Presidential elections, of which the world is still facing its ramifications.”

Organizer of the event Dr. Abdullah Al-Zein Haidari of QU said, “We are operating during interesting times, specifically in the economic and political context. Disinformation is making it difficult to make major decisions. We are trying to utilize the technology of media and communication in an effective way, to clarify the reality of situations and in turn make accurate political and social actions.”

Abdulrahman Al Shami, Associate Professor of Broadcast Journalism and Advertising at QU, discussed the consequences of electronic bots on certain social media platforms, and the threat of disinformation on the integrity of journalistic values.