Social Media Bots and the Community Planning Process

Recently published research examines the "Role of Artificial Intelligence in Community Planning"—that is, the role of automated bots on social media in corrupting participatory planning processes.

1 minute read

November 20, 2020, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Social Media Apps

Jason A. Howie / flickr

New research published by the International Journal of Community Well-Being—written by Justin B. Hollander, Ruth Potts, Maxwell Hartt, and Miny Situ—examines the potential roles and risk of automated social media accounts to influence the community engagement components of planning processes.

Inherent to this investigation is an awareness of the growing awareness of land use development issues, as enabled by the Internet and its many social media platforms. As has been well documented with regard to issues of national and presidential politics, automated social media profiles can be deployed to corrupt the public discourse.

"Due to the low cost and high potential engagement, planners and policymakers have been quick to open electronic channels of participation to inform the decision-making process. Doing so has created an opportunity for subversion from groups with alternate and possibly nefarious interests," reads the abstract for the research.

In the process of reviewing the relevant literature, the paper reveals comes key terminology that defines the strategies of social bots (e.g., astroturfing, spamming, and Twitter bombs) that might be helpful in diagnosing the behavior and tenor of online accounts. Eventually the paper offers a list of mitigation strategies to help planners ensure that social bots don't overwhelm the public trust in planning processes.

The entire paper is available online via Springer.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 in International Journal of Community Well-Being

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Black-and-white photo of street with old black model T and brick building on the corner.

The History of Racial Zoning and Housing Discrimination in the US

More than a century of discriminatory housing policy divided cities and contributed to the racial wealth gap and other social and economic inequities.

2 minutes ago - Urban Land Magazine

Aerial view of Vail, Colorado in winter with multi-story buildings in foregorund and snowy mountains in background.

Opinion: Resort Towns Must Take Action to Keep Housing Affordable

The workers that keep many popular tourist destinations running find it more difficult to find affordable housing near their jobs as more remote workers move to scenic resort areas.

1 hour ago - Governing

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio, Texas.

Commentary: San Antonio Needs ‘Thoughtful Reforms’ to Improve Affordability

The growing Texas city needs a new approach to meet its residents’ housing and mobility needs.

2 hours ago - San Antonio Report

Senior Planner

Heyer Gruel Associates

Regional Transportation Planner

Crater Planning District Commission

Senior Planner- Long range

Prince William County Planning Office

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.