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How Pro-Modi, Anti-Modi Twitter Bots went Berserk

The most active was @PhillyTdp, which posted on #GoBackModi 2,179 times as the hashtag took off staggering one tweet every 5.3 seconds for over three hours

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Twitter, tweets, India
The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

Two Twitter bots — one in support of and one in opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — made a massive attempt to boost traffic on the platform in India in February as the world’s largest democracy prepared for the General Elections, a new report has found.

The US-based Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFR Lab) revealed that the pro-Modi traffic was far more heavily manipulated than the anti-Modi traffic or any large-scale traffic flow the DFR Lab had analyzed.

The two hashtags were #GoBackModi and #TNwelcomesModi.

“The accounts were deployed on a massive scale on February 9-10 and boosted hashtags both in support of and in opposition to incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with small groups of accounts pushing out thousands of posts an hour,” said the DFR Lab report.

The accounts were domestic in origin and substance.

#TNwelcomesModi was mentioned over 777,000 times in two days. The hashtag referenced Modi’s visit to Tamil Nadu.

The DFR Lab analyzed the first 49,727 tweets in the flow to see whether the hashtag started to trend because of widespread interest or because it was pushed by a small group.

“Almost two-thirds of the posts that initiated #TNwelcomesModi and pushed it to trend came from just 50 accounts. This was an attempt at manipulation on an industrial scale, using a small number of hyper-tweeting bots to give the hashtag a massive boost,” the report explained.

Twitter, India, Smartphone
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

One such bot account, @priyamanaval6 tweeted around once every 17 seconds. This account, and the others amplifying the #TNwelcomesModi hashtag have been suspended.

On February 10, the hashtag #GoBackModi also trended.

This hashtag trended even faster, racking up 49,538 tweets in just over three hours in the early morning of February 10. It peaked at a lower rate, however, generating 447,000 posts on February 9-10.

Just like #TNwelcomesModi, #GoBackModi was heavily pushed by a small number of high-volume accounts that posted hundreds of times an hour.

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“Unlike #TNwelcomesModi, these accounts were still not suspended at the time of the report.

The most active was @PhillyTdp, which posted on #GoBackModi 2,179 times as the hashtag took off staggering one tweet every 5.3 seconds for over three hours.

The analysis used the Coefficient of Traffic Manipulation (CTM) method, which allows researchers to compare a given Twitter flow with known organic traffic, and traffic that was heavily gamed by small groups. (IANS)

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Google to Test More Variations for Desktop Search Results

Google announces on Twitter to test more desktop Search design after backlash

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Google
After facing backlash from its users, Google announced on Twitter that it will test more variations to the desktop search results. Pixabay

After facing backlash from its users, Google announced on Twitter that it will test more variations and changes to the desktop search results.

Last week, Google introduced a new design for desktop Search that adds site afavicons’ to every result which did not go well with users.

A ‘favicon’, also known as a shortcut icon, website icon, tab icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, is a file containing one or more small icons, associated with a particular website or web page.

In a tweet, Google said it has heard the feedback from users.

Google
Google introduced a new design for desktop Search that adds site afavicons’ to every result which did not go well with users. Pixabay

“Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what’s been on mobile for months. We’ve heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we’re going to experiment with new placements for favicons,” the tech company tweeted late Friday.

“Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop Search,” Google added.

Not just SEOs and SEMs but a wider set of searchers and Google users criticized the desktop Search changes.

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“Our early tests of the design for desktop were positive. But we appreciate the feedback, the trust people place in Google, and we’re dedicated to improving the experience,” said Google.

“Web publishers have also told us they like having their brand iconography on the search results page. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time,” it added. (IANS)