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Microblogging Site Twitter Releases Tweets Linked to Russia, Iran

"We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings," Twitter said

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Twitter
New Twitter bug exposed Android users' private tweets. Pixabay

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.

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The logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. vOA

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.

Twitter
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

“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.

Also Read- Habitability Of Surrounding Planets Affected By Super Flares Of Red Dwarfs: NASA

Twitter said if it identifies additional attempted information operations on Twitter in the future, it will release similar datasets in a timely fashion after completing its investigations.

“We may also release incremental additions to existing datasets if we believe the additional information could materially impact research findings,” Twitter said. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Develop New Algorithm to Identify Cyber-bullies on Twitter

“In a nutshell, the algorithms ‘learn’ how to tell the difference between bullies and typical users by weighing certain features as they are shown more examples,” said Blackburn

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FILE - A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

Researchers have developed machine learning algorithms which can identify bullies and aggressors on Twitter with 90 per cent accuracy.

For the study published in the journal Transactions on the Web, the research team analysed the behavioural patterns exhibited by abusive Twitter users and their differences from other users.

“We built crawlers — programs that collect data from Twitter via variety of mechanisms,” said study researcher Jeremy Blackburn from Binghamton University in the US.

“We gathered tweets of Twitter users, their profiles, as well as (social) network-related things, like who they follow and who follows them,” Blackburn said.

The researchers then performed natural language processing and sentiment analysis on the tweets themselves, as well as a variety of social network analyses on the connections between users.

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Twitter is a social media app that encourages short tweets and brief conversations. Pixabay

They developed algorithms to automatically classify two specific types of offensive online behaviour, i.e. cyber-bullying and cyber-aggression.

The algorithms were able to identify abusive users — who engage in harassing behaviour like those who send death threats or make racist remarks — on Twitter with 90 per cent accuracy.

Also Read: Facebook Announces Some New Features to its Video Capabilities

“In a nutshell, the algorithms ‘learn’ how to tell the difference between bullies and typical users by weighing certain features as they are shown more examples,” said Blackburn.

“Our research indicates that machine learning can be used to automatically detect users that are cyber-bullies, and thus could help Twitter and other social media platforms remove problematic users,” Blackburn added. (IANS)