twitter bots

Bots in the Twittersphere

An estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts – not human beings

APRIL 9, 2018 http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/04/09/bots-in-the-twittersphere/

The role of so-called social media “bots” – automated accounts capable of posting content or interacting with other users with no direct human involvement – has been the subject of much scrutiny and attention in recent years. These accounts can play a valuable part in the social media ecosystem by answering questions about a variety of topics in real time or providing automated updates about news stories or events. At the same time, they can also be used to attempt to alter perceptions of political discourse on social media, spread misinformation, or manipulate online rating and review systems. As social media has attained an increasingly prominent position in the overall news and information environment, bots have been swept up in the broader debate over Americans’ changing news habits, the tenor of online discourse and the prevalence of “fake news” online.

 

data misuse

This Is So Much Bigger Than Facebook

Data misuse is a feature, not a bug—and it’s plaguing our entire culture.

ETHAN ZUCKERMAN 

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/03/data-misuse-bigger-than-facebook/556310

In the 17-months-long conversation Americans have been having about social media’s effects on democracy, two distinct sets of problems have emerged. The ones getting the most attention are bad-actor problems—where someone breaks the rules and manipulates a social-media system for their own nefarious ends. Macedonian teenagers create sensational and false content to profit from online ad sales. Disinformation experts plan rallies and counterrallies, calling Americans into the streets to scream at each other. Botnets amplify posts and hashtags, building the appearance of momentum behind online campaigns like #releasethememo. Such problems are the charismatic megafauna of social-media dysfunction.

People are mean online, and bullying, harassment, and mob behavior make online spaces unusable for many people. People tend to get stuck in cocoons of unchallenging, ideologically compatible information online, whether these are “filter bubbles” created by algorithms, or simply echo chambers built through homophily and people’s friendships with “birds of a feather.” Conspiracy theories thrive online, and searching for information can quickly lead to extreme and disturbing content.

If you want to know more about who’s watching you, download Ghostery, a browser extension that tracks and can block these “third-party” trackers.

We need an ecosystem that encourages competitors to existing social-media platforms, which means ensuring a right to export data from existing social networks and new software that lets us experiment with new services while maintaining contacts on existing ones. We need to treat personally identifiable information less like a resource to be exploited and more like toxic waste, which must be carefully managed, as Maciej Ceglowski has proposed. This may require a digital EPA, as Franklin FoerPaul Ford, and others have argued—a prospect that would be more appealing if the actual EPA wasn’t currently being gutted.

Tribalism, manipulation, and misinformation are well-established forces in American politics, all predating the web. But something fundamental has changed. Never before have we had the technological infrastructure to support the weaponization of emotion on a global scale. The people who built this infrastructure have a moral obligation to own up to what they’ve done.

 

social media and newsmedia

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Holding the powerful accountable, using data

Insights on the state of investigative journalism in Brazil, Serbia and the USA

Go to the profile of Marianne Bouchart
a group discussion on Slack last week and gathered Amita Kelly of NPR(USA), Jelena Vasić of KRIK (Serbia) and Tiago Mali of ABRAJI (Brazil) to discuss the challenges of holding the powerful accountable using data.
Who is KRIK? https://www.krik.rs/en/about-us/
is with KRIK

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Hey, Mark Zuckerberg: My Democracy Isn’t Your Laboratory