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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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Twitter accounts linked to fake news still thriving: Study. 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.

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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 Gets Investigated By Ireland Over Data Collection

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages

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Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

 Twitter is reportedly facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system, the media reported.

Privacy regulators in Ireland have launched an investigation into exactly how much data Twitter collects from t.co, its URL-shortening system, The Verge reported late on Saturday.

The investigation stems from a request made by UK professor Michael Veale under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive European privacy law under which EU citizens have a right to request any data collected on them from a given company.

Facebook, Twitter
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

But when Veale made that request to Twitter, the company claimed it had no data from its link-shortening service. The professor was sceptical, and wrote to the relevant privacy regulator to see if Twitter was holding back some of his data.

Now, that investigation seems to be underway. The investigation, first reported by Fortune, is confirmed in a letter obtained by The Verge, sent to Veale by the office of the Irish Data Privacy Commissioner, the report said.

Initially designed as a way to save characters in the limited space of a tweet, link-shortening has also proved to be an effective tool at fighting malware and gathering rudimentary analytics.

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Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

Those analytics services can also present a significant privacy risk when used in private messages.

Also Read: Facebook Tackles Fake News, Deletes Almost 800 Accounts

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages, although no wrong-doing was conclusively established in either case. (IANS)