While the world watched with bated breath the unfolding tragedy in Nepal, a few on twitter started their own agenda. #SoulVultures turned the dialogue on the social media away from a humanitarian one to sheer communal bigotry.
The tag is being used against the religious conversion activities carried out by missionaries, under the garb of love, care and helping.
The twitter handle, belonging to a certain Matthew Armendarez, which was the first to tweet religiosity rather than relief and respite, has been deactivated.
Armendarez tweeted about how 99.5% of Nepal is untouched by Christianity and could not hear the Gospel before death.
Needless to say that the issue was magnified out of proportion due to its sentimental value and basic misunderstanding of expression. However, even the presence of such ideas during a community’s hour of need, betray a huge vacuum in humanitarian understanding and thinking beyond faith.
No ground evidence of any such activity is there to corroborate the social media outcry. However in all the humbug, a few tweets did display the potential of vested interests in behaving with perfect opportunist attitude, apathetic to the sentimentality and needs of people.
Most of the Twitter handles which tweeted so have been deactivated or turned private.
With the goal of improving understanding of how foreign influence campings operate on Twitter, the microblogging site has now released massive datasets of accounts linked to potential influence campaigns originating in Russia and Iran.
These large datasets released this week comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran.
Totalling over 360 gigabytes – including more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts ?the data store provides a picture of how state-sponsored agencies have used the Twitter platform, technology news website Ars Technica reported on Friday.
IRA allegedly ran information campaigns on several social media platforms to undermine the political process in the 2016 US presidential election.
With Twitter coming under scrutiny for its failure to stop the spread of misinformation during the election, the microblogging site, earlier this year, committed to the US Congress and the public to provide regular updates and information regarding its investigation into foreign interference in political conversations on Twitter.
Since that time, Twitter has shared examples of these types of content posted on Twitter by IRA and provided the public with a direct notice if they interacted with these accounts.
In August this year, Twitter also disclosed details of another attempted influence campaign it identified as potentially located within Iran.
The datasets released this week are aimed at enabling independent academic research and investigation into the nature of foreign influence campaigns, Twitter said.
“We are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services. We will continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation,” Twitter said.
A preliminary look at the data by Ars Technica revealed that a common tactic used by the IRA was to create “local news” accounts for major US cities, seeding them with posts linking to local news outlets.
The accounts, such as “Atlanta Online,” “Baltimore Online,” “Baton Rouge Voice,” “Chicago Daily News,” and “Dallas Top News” would also include tweet-length news headlines with no link, the report said.