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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.

(IANS)

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A Bug in Twitter Exposes Private Tweets of Some Android Users

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system

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New Twitter bug exposed Android users' private tweets. Pixabay

A bug in Twitter exposed private tweets of some Android users for over five years when they made changes in their settings, like changing the email address linked to their accounts.

According to the micro-blogging platform, the bug (now fixed) disabled the “Protect your Tweets” setting if certain account changes were made on Android devices.

The bug didn’t affect people using Twitter on iOS or desktop, Twitter said on Thursday.

“You may have been impacted by this issue if you had protected Tweets turned on in your settings, used Twitter for Android, and made certain changes to account settings such as changing the email address associated with your account between November 3, 2014, and January 14, 2019.

“People on iOS or the web were not impacted. We fixed the issue on January 14, and we’ll provide updates if other important information becomes available,” Twitter said on its Help page.

The company said it has informed those who were affected by the bug, and has turned “Protect your Tweets” back on for them if it was disabled.

Twitter CEO
Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

“We encourage you to review your privacy settings to ensure that your aProtect your Tweets’ setting reflects your preferences,” said Twitter, adding it is sorry that this happened.

In May last year, Twitter asked its 336 million users to change their passwords after it discovered a bug that stored passwords in plain text in an internal system.

Twitter said it found no sign that hackers accessed the exposed data but advised users that they should enter a new password on all services where their current password has been used.

Also Read- Android ‘Q’ Expected to Bring System-wide ‘Dark Mode’

Another bug in Twitter’s platform for third-party app developers exposed some Direct Messages (DMs) from nearly 3 million users to outsiders, the micro-blogging platform admitted in September.

The bug ran from May 2017 and after discovering it, Twitter said it fixed the bug to prevent data from being unintentionally sent to the incorrect developer.

Twitter is also facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system. (IANS)