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Twitter Bots can Help Trigger and Promote Good Behavior, says a New Research

The research claims bots can be used to run interventions on social media that trigger or foster good behavior,

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Twitter has become one of the most preferred medium of communication in recent times Wikimedia
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New York, September 23, 2017 : Twitter bots earned a bad reputation for their alleged role in the 2016 US presidential election.  But recently, Researchers have found that automated tweets can also help promote good behavior such as getting the flu shot among the social network’s users.

In a large-scale experiment designed to analyse the spread of information on social networks. The researchers deployed a network of algorithm-driven Twitter accounts, or social bots, programmed to spread positive messages on Twitter.

“We found that bots can be used to run interventions on social media that trigger or foster good behavior,” said Emilio Ferrara, Research Assistant Professor at University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering in the US.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also revealed another intriguing pattern — information is much more likely to become viral when people are exposed to the same piece of information multiple times through multiple sources.

“This milestone shatters a long-held belief that ideas spread like an infectious disease, or contagion, with each exposure resulting in the same probability of infection,” Ferrara said.

“Now we have seen empirically that when you are exposed to a given piece of information multiple times, your chances of adopting this information increase every time,” Ferrara added.

To reach these conclusions, the researchers first developed a dozen positive hashtags, ranging from health tips to fun activities, such as encouraging users to get the flu shot and high-five a stranger.

Then, they designed a network of 39 bots to deploy these hashtags in a synchronised manner to 25,000 real followers during a four-month period.

Each bot automatically recorded when a target user retweeted intervention-related content and also each exposure that had taken place prior to retweeting. Several hashtags received more than one hundred retweets and likes, Ferrara said.

“We also saw that every exposure increased the probability of adoption – there is a cumulative reinforcement effect,” Ferrara said.

“It seems there are some cognitive mechanisms that reinforce your likelihood to believe in or adopt a piece of information when it is validated by multiple sources in your social network,” he said.

The researchers believe that this discovery could also improve how positive intervention strategies are deployed on social networks in many scenarios, including public health announcements for disease control or emergency management in the wake of a crisis.

(IANS)

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Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Facebook in July said it had deleted hundreds of offensive posts since implementation of the law

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An illustration picture shows a man starting his Twitter app on a mobile device in Hanau near Frankfurt. VOA

German states have drafted a list of demands aimed at tightening a law that requires social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to remove hate speech from their sites, the Handelblatt newspaper reported Monday.

Justice ministers from the states will submit their proposed revisions to the German law called NetzDG at a meeting with Justice Minister Katarina Barley on Thursday, the newspaper said, saying it had obtained a draft of the document.

The law, which came into full force on Jan. 1, is a highly ambitious effort to control what appears on social media and it has drawn a range of criticism.

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Twitter allows publishers to monetise video views globally. (VOA)

While the German states are focused on concerns about how complaints are processed, other officials have called for changes following criticism that too much content was being blocked.

The states’ justice ministers are calling for changes that would make it easier for people who want to complain about banned content such as pro-Nazi ideology to find the required forms on social media platforms.

They also want to fine social media companies up to 500,000 euros ($560,950) for providing “meaningless replies” to queries from law enforcement authorities, the newspaper said.

Till Steffen, the top justice official in Hamburg and a member of the Greens party, told the newspaper that the law had in some cases proven to be “a paper tiger.”

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If we want to effectively limit hate and incitement on the internet, we have to give the law more bite. Pixabay

“If we want to effectively limit hate and incitement on the internet, we have to give the law more bite and close the loopholes,” he told the paper. “For instance, it cannot be the case that some platforms hide their complaint forms so that no one can find them.”

Also Read: Facebook Allows French Regulators to Oversee Hate Speech Control

Facebook in July said it had deleted hundreds of offensive posts since implementation of the law, which foresees fines of up to 50 million euros ($56.10 million) for failure to comply. (VOA)