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How your tweets can reveal political polarisation?

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Researchers at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid in Spain have developed a model to detect the extent to which a conversation on Twitter – and thus the actual offline argument and political climate—is polarised.

The model revealed that a group is “perfectly polarised” on a given topic when it has been divided into two groups of the same size holding opposite opinions. A politically polarised society implies several risks, such as the appearance of radicalism or civil wars.

“We were interested to find out how can political polarisation be detected and, therefore, be fixed,” said Rosa Maria Benito, a professor at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid.

Case Study of Hugo Chavez

The researchers took the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2013 as the case study. Analysing 16 million tweets from more than three million users following Chavez’s death in Venezuela, Spanish researchers quantified the extent of polarization in Caracas. Benito and her colleagues downloaded over 16,383,490 messages written by 3,173,090 Twitter users from one month before and one month after Chavez’s death on March 5, 2013 – a total of 56 days.

They used these messages to create retweet networks, in which retweets could be considered a proxy for influence and adoption of ideas, and at last applied their model and polarisation index to the networks. Compilation of this data gave them a day-by-day breakdown of the extent of political polarisation in Venezuela over the course of 56 days.

It was surprising for the researchers to find that during the most critical days of the conversation – between Chavez’s death and state funeral- polarisation dropped to its lowest levels as foreign users had joined the conversation. This was the reason behind the disappearance of  polarised structure of the network. Benito and her colleagues then plotted the geo-located tweets on a map of Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and compared the polarity expressed – opposition— with the voting records and political affiliations of each municipality, finding a strong correlation between the two.

 

 

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Twitter Testing a New Feature Called ‘Hide Replies’

A Twitter user can also hide replies that attempt to correct misinformation or offer a fact check

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FILE - A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

You will soon be able to hide replies in the conversation thread on Twitter that are offensive, hateful or racist in nature. The micro-blogging platform is testing a feature called “Hide Replies”, beginning with users in Canada which will be rolled out globally.

It is not the equivalent of a delete button but hides replies behind an icon.

If your followers still want to see the hidden replies, they can press the icon and view those.

“We’re testing a feature to hide replies from conversations. This experience will be available for everyone around the world, but at this time, only people in Canada can hide replies to their tweets,” Twitter Support posted late on Wednesday.

“They’ll be hidden from the main conversation for everyone behind a new icon. As long as it hasn’t been deleted and/or is not from an account with protected tweets, everyone can still interact with a hidden reply by clicking the icon to view,” it added.

Twitter CEO
This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. VOA

The aim, said Twitter, is to have healthy conversations on its platform.

There is, however, a downside to the feature.

“For example, a user could choose to hide replies that simply disagreed with their views. This would then create a ‘filter bubble’ where only people who shared the original poster’s same opinion would have their comments prominently displayed,” reports Tech Crunch.

Also Read: Cyber Criminals Attack Nearly 10,000 Microsoft Customers

A Twitter user can also hide replies that attempt to correct misinformation or offer a fact check.

However, for Twitter, “transparency is important to us — that’s why we’re hiding the replies behind an icon where they can still be accessed. We want to give tweet authors control over their conversations, but in a way that’s open”. (IANS)