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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

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.


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Black Panther: The Most Tweeted-About Movie Ever

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A scene from the blockbuster movie "Black Panther." VOA

The pop culture sensation Black Panther has set another record: most tweeted-about movie ever.

Twitter said Tuesday that Ryan Coogler’s box-office smash has been tweeted about more than 35 million times. That pushes it ahead of the previous record-holder, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The most recent Star Wars installment, The Last Jedi, ranks third.

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Over the weekend, Black Panther became the first film since 2009’s Avatar to top the box office in North America five straight weekends. It has grossed more than $607 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide. In the next week, it’s expected to pass The Avengers as the highest-grossing superhero film ever, not accounting for inflation.

Twitter said Black Panther had the most tweets in the U.S., followed by the United Kingdom and Thailand. VOA

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