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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 India celebrates rising women achievers. Pixabay

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)

Next Story

Twitterati Can Soon Clarify Tweets: CEO Jack Dorsey

Back in 2018, while visiting India for Twitter’s pre-election campaign, Dorsey was quizzed why Twitter does not have an edit button

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

While Twitterati are waiting for an “edit” feature, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said the micro-blogging platform is considering a “clarify” feature for its over 330 million users.

At a Goldman Sachs event in San Francisco on Thursday, Dorsey said he is considering a “clarify” feature that would allow users to add additional context to a tweet without changing the original content, 9to5Mac.com reported.

“One of the concepts we’re thinking about is clarifications… Kind of like retweet with comment… to add some context and some colour on what they might have tweeted, or what they might have meant,” Dorsey told the audience.

“By doing so you might imagine that the original tweet then would not have the sort of engagement around it. Like you wouldn’t be able to retweet the original tweet, for instance,” he added.

Earlier this month, Dorsey said Twitter is considering the possibility of adding support for editing tweets, but the original version of the tweet would still be viewable.

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The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

“Maybe we can introduce a 5-30 seconds delay in the sending of a tweet and within that window, you can edit because the issue with going longer than that is it takes that real-time nature of the conversational flow out of it,” 9To5Mac quoted Dorsey as saying in a podcast interview.

Dorsey first addressed the possibility of adding an edit feature for tweets in December 2016, based on the Twitteratis’ suggestions.

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Back in 2018, while visiting India for Twitter’s pre-election campaign, Dorsey was quizzed why Twitter does not have an edit button.

To which, he said, “the reason Twitter does not have an ‘edit’ button is because people may change their opinions by editing the original tweet and then people who don’t agree with the original view, may have already retweeted the tweet, which is not an accurate representation of what they believe.” (IANS)