Twitter has changed since the 2016 US Presidential elections. It rolled out new API rules to throttle mass followings and tweet spams. It released tools and badges for political transparency. Now, it removes bots and fake accounts faster than ever before.
Are the ramped-up efforts working though?
The team analyzed more than 10 million tweets from 700,000 Twitter accounts linked to more than 600 conspiracy and fake news outlets.
During the 2016 US Presidential election campaign, they found more than 6.6 million tweets linked to fake news and conspiracy publishers.
It overflowed. They found around four million tweets to fake and conspiracy news publishers between mid-March to mid-April 2017.
“More than 80% of accounts that repeatedly spread misinformation during the 2016 election campaign are still active, and they continue to publish more than a million tweets on a typical day,” the group said.
UK researchers found bot networks tweeting last year. Their clusters had 500,000 accounts acting in unison to share and engage on the platform.
Have they been removed? Are these bot networks still active?
News from Social Media
Last month, Pew Research reported that 68 percent of American adults get news from social media.
While more people now rely on social platforms, their skepticism on these channels as a reliable news source is also growing.
A little web research often does the trick. We can isolate which ones are fake news before we even think of sharing them. Facebook’s ‘related articles’ highlights similar stories before sharing to address this.
Digital literacy seems to be a problem. The impulse to share biased content is another one.
If we all look closer at videos and captions, read comments or search for the original video online, we can stop fake news from spreading.
But no. Some stop at the headline, fuming. Some only play the video, and trust their own judgement. Skeptics google for details about the backstory, scrutinizing the shared content before tweeting about it.
Some conspiracy theorists think mainstream media censors some news in favor of money-generating scoops.
Fake news is still rampant because of our whim to share content that irks or moves us. We are inept or lack the motivation to drive them out.
Technology offsets our incompetence. Algorithms scrub the internet for us because we cannot depend on people to be wary. Some also lack the digital literacy to determine what’s off.
The new report on Twitter shows we have a long way to go before fake news becomes a distant past. Fake news still flows freely on social media, and people share them to push their own agendas or beliefs.
Let’s start by educating users how to use fact checkers during these Midterm elections.