Bots Surpass Humans at Spreading News on Twitter

❝ As bots have become inextricably tied to the spread of “fake news,” a new study looking at how automated accounts engage with popular websites finds they are more prolific than humans on Twitter, posting two-thirds of all shared news links.

While Pew Research Center analysts found…that the majority of bot-generated links on Twitter come from sports and adult content websites, suspected bots also accounted for about two-thirds, or 66 percent, of tweeted links to popular news and current event websites.

❝ About the same average proportion of bots posted links to all the sites the study covered, including pages about news and current events, sports, commercial information, celebrities and commercial products or services…

❝ “These findings illustrate the extent to which bots play a prominent and pervasive role in the social media environment,” Aaron Smith [Pew’s associate director of research] said in a news release. “Automated accounts are far from a niche phenomenon: They share a significant portion of tweeted links to even the most prominent and mainstream publications and online outlets.”

So, anyone hear what TWITTER and their peers are doing about any of this? If anything? Removing these posts might reduce the take from advertisers paying for clicks and posts, eh?

Barry Ritholtz says, “Don’t let the trolls get you down!”

❝ I began sharing my work online two decades ago as one of the early financial bloggers. I started on Yahoo Geocities in the 1990s, Typepad in 2003, and finally on WordPress at my own domain in 2008. That is where the Big Picture still resides…

Alas, a classic case of the tragedy of the commons struck, rendering comments mostly worthless as they were overrun with spam advertising and trolls. Managing them was a giant time suck, with no effective technology solution. It was with some reluctance that I finally decided to close down my blog comments. For the same reasons, you will not find a comment section below my Bloomberg View columns.

❝ Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive officer, seems to be making some progress in the company’s response as it begins cleaning up its act and banning some of the most egregious offenders. It has also given users more tools to help them avoid the worst of the trolls. This is good news for those of us in the financial community, as Twitter is a tremendous resource.

Reading discussions between a few law professors about their Twitter usage (see this and this) reminded me of this. Because I find Twitter to be enormously helpful, I want you to also take advantage of its resources. Here are a few ideas that can help you, too…

RTFA. We can always use more suggestions about dealing with the ego-smitten or simply corrupt folk who take up otherwise useful space online.

Trump gives up on forcing TWITTER to turn over names of anti-Trump opposition users

❝ The U.S. government has dropped its request for Twitter to produce records that could identify users behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump…

As a result, Twitter is withdrawing a federal lawsuit that challenged the government’s request. On Thursday, Twitter charged that efforts by the government to “unmask” the people behind the account violated the First Amendment

❝ “The speed with which the government buckled shows just how blatantly unconstitutional its demand was in the first place,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Esha Bhandari said in a statement. Bhandari represents the unidentified person or people behind the Twitter account.

❝ The account in question is @ALT_uscis, a reference to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. In the two months of its existence, the account has been critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. The account described its users to The Associated Press in February as employees and former employees of the agency.

The account is one of dozens of rogue Twitter accounts that have sprung up since Trump took office, purporting to represent current or former federal employees at various agencies who oppose the administration’s policies. Other such “alternative” — or “alt” — accounts include @Alt_CDC for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and @AltUSEPA for the Environmental Protection Agency…

I think someone must have explained the First Amendment to Trump. Not that he’d agree with most of the Bill of Rights. He’s just stuck with it.