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Twitter Still Remains a Hotbed For Accounts Spreading Fake News: Study

Sixty-five percent of fake and conspiracy news links during the election period went to just the 10 largest sites, a statistic unchanged six months later

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FIR against Twitter CEO for 'hurting' Brahmin community. Pixabay
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Twitter still remains a hotbed for accounts spreading fake news, suggests a new study that looked into how fake and conspiracy news flourished on the microblogging site both before and after the 2016 US presidential election.

More than 80 per cent of the Twitter accounts linked to spread of disinformation during the 2016 election are still active, said the study by the Knight Foundation on Thursday.

These accounts continue to publish more than a million tweets in a typical day, the study said.

Using tools and mapping methods from Graphika, a social media intelligence firm, the researchers studied more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts that linked to more than 600 fake and conspiracy news outlets.

Twitter, along with other social media platforms including Facebook came under intense scrutiny of policymakers in the US for their failure to stop the spread of misinformation on their platforms during the 2016 election.

The microblogging site since then has stepped up its efforts to curb the spread of divisive messages and fake news on its platform.

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Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

To further protect the integrity of elections, Twitter earlier this week announced that it will now delete fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviours.

As platform manipulation tactics continue to evolve, the micro-blogging platform said it is expanding rules to better reflect how it identifies fake accounts and what types of inauthentic activity violate its guidelines before the US mid-term elections in November.

As part of the new rules, accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts were previously suspended for violating rules may be identified as fake accounts, Twitter said.

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The Knight Foundation study found more than 6.6 million tweets linking to fake and conspiracy news publishers in the month before the 2016 election.

Yet disinformation continues to be a substantial problem postelection, with 4.0 million tweets linking to fake and conspiracy news publishers found in a 30-day period from mid-March to mid-April 2017, the study said.

Twitter CEO
Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

Sixty-five percent of fake and conspiracy news links during the election period went to just the 10 largest sites, a statistic unchanged six months later.

“Machine Learning models estimate that 33 percent of the 100 most-followed accounts in our postelection map — and 63 percent of a random sample of all accounts — are “bots,” or automated accounts,” the study said.

“Because roughly 15 per cent of accounts in the postelection map have since been suspended, the true proportion of automated accounts may have exceeded 70 per cent,” it added. (IANS)

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Under Fire For Myanmar Tweets

Dorsey was seen posing with six female journalists in a picture on Twitter, with a poster in his hands carrying the offending anti-Brahmin message: 'Smash Brahminical Patriarchy'

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

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, who faces a lawsuit for hurting Hindu sentiments during his visit to India in November, now faces criticism for promoting Myanmar as a tourist destination despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

In a series of tweets, Dorsey said he had travelled to northern Myanmar in November for a meditation retreat.

“The people are full of joy and the food is amazing,” he said, before encouraging his four million followers to visit.

This led to widespread criticism of the Twitter chief, some accused him of ignoring the plight of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

In 2017, Myanmar’s military launched a violent crackdown after Rohingya militants carried out attacks on several police posts. Thousands of people were killed, and human rights organisations said the army has burned land and committed arbitrary killings and rape.

“Writing what is effectively a free tourism advert for them at this time is reprehensible,” one Twitter user wrote in response to Dorsey’s tweets.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“The tone-deafness here is… wow,” another user said. “This is an extremely irresponsible recommendation,” yet another reads. “Does he pay no attention to the news and the outcry on his own platform?”

The military crackdown had also sparked an exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingyas who have since fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the violence and the destruction of their homes.

The UN has described the operation as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and says senior Myanmar officials should be investigated and tried for genocide.

Mohammed Jamjoom, an Al Jazeera correspondent, who has interviewed Rohingya refugees, said he was left “utterly speechless” by Dorsey’s tweets.

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Dorsey is yet to respond to the criticism, but earlier said he would track the responses to his tweets.

A court in Rajasthan on December 1, asked the police to file a First Information Report against Dorsey for hurting the sentiments of the Brahmin community by posing for a picture holding an anti-Brahmin message.

Dorsey was seen posing with six female journalists in a picture on Twitter, with a poster in his hands carrying the offending anti-Brahmin message: ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’. (IANS)