Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

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Addie
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Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#1

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NPR: Researchers: Nearly Half Of Accounts Tweeting About Coronavirus Are Likely Bots


Nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said Wednesday.

Researchers culled through more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerized robots than humans.

It is too early to say conclusively which individuals or groups are behind the bot accounts, but researchers said the tweets appeared aimed at sowing division in America.

"We do know that it looks like it's a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that," said Kathleen Carley, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is conducting a study into bot-generated coronavirus activity on Twitter that has yet to be published.

Researchers identified more than 100 false narratives about COVID-19 that are proliferating on Twitter by accounts controlled by bots.

Among the misinformation disseminated by bot accounts: tweeted conspiracy theories about hospitals being filled with mannequins or tweets that connected the spread of the coronavirus to 5G wireless towers, a notion that is patently untrue.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Addie
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#2

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Yahoo News: A pandemic of conspiracy theories spreads across the internet and around the world

Depending on who you talk to, the current coronavirus pandemic might be the natural product of evolution, the result of a lab accident or a biological weapon designed by the Chinese. Lockdown measures to impose social distancing restrictions are responsible measures designed to protect public safety or they’re part of a Democratic Party plot to destroy the economy in order to diminish President Trump’s chances of reelection in November. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, is either a respected medical professional or devious member of the “deep state” who is using the coronavirus (which he may or may not have helped create) to control the public through a mandatory vaccination.

And those are just some of the narratives that are spreading within the United States.

In countries around the world, equally implausible ideas are circulating, derived in part from their particular political and historical situations, but also cross-pollinating with a wide array of conspiracy theories, misinformation and state-sponsored content, ranging from blatant propaganda to more subtle disinformation campaigns. In some cases, the dearth of verifiable information has resulted in the spread of misinformation by fairly reputable and well-intentioned sources. The coronavirus “infodemic,” however, has allowed a host of malign actors — from the Russian government to domestic extremists to scam artists peddling bogus cures — to exploit existing societal fissures for their own political or personal gain.

“All of that just contributes to this massive, unstoppable flow of information that would be impossible to contend with even for the most resilient society,” said Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

In fact, Jankowicz told Yahoo News that other than in countries such as Turkmenistan, where the government has imposed a complete clampdown on any and all information related to the coronavirus, “I can’t imagine a country that would have no proliferation of conspiracy theories or disinformation at this time.”

Disinformation feeds on anxiety and promotes emotional and irrational responses. “I think it’s a common misconception that disinformation creates some sort of new feeling in people,” Jankowicz says. “Often it's really weaponizing preexisting feelings, or certainly amplifying them.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#3

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Business Insider: Roughly half the Twitter accounts pushing to 'reopen America' are bots, researchers found ...

As parts of the US have lifted shutdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been a fierce argument online about the risks and benefits of reopening. New research suggests that bots have been dominating that debate.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers analyzed over 200 million tweets discussing COVID-19 and related issues since January and found that roughly half the accounts — including 62% of the 1,000 most influential retweeters — appeared to be bots, they said in a report published this week.

That's a far higher level of bot activity than usual, even when it comes to contentious events — the level of bot involvement in discussions about things like US elections or natural disasters is typically 10% to 20%.

The researchers identified bots using artificial-intelligence systems that analyze accounts' frequency of tweets, number of followers, and apparent location.

"Tweeting more frequently than is humanly possible or appearing to be in one country and then another a few hours later is indicative of a bot," Kathleen Carley, a computer-science professor who led the research, said in a release.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#4

Post by Volkonski »

Nearly half of Twitter accounts pushing to reopen America may be bots
There has been a huge upswell of Twitter bot activity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying medical disinformation and the push to reopen America


https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/0 ... n-america/
Kathleen M. Carley and her team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social Cybersecurity have been tracking bots and influence campaigns for a long time. Across US and foreign elections, natural disasters, and other politicized events, the level of bot involvement is normally between 10 and 20%, she says.

But in a new study, the researchers have found that bots may account for between 45 and 60% of Twitter accounts discussing covid-19. Many of those accounts were created in February and have since been spreading and amplifying misinformation, including false medical advice, conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, and pushes to end stay-at-home orders and reopen America.

They follow well-worn patterns of coordinated influence campaigns, and their strategy is already working: since the beginning of the crisis, the researchers have observed a greater polarization in Twitter discourse around the topic.

A number of factors could account for this surge. The global nature of the pandemic means a larger swath of actors are motivated to capitalize on the crisis as a way to meet their political agendas. Disinformation is also now more coordinated in general, with more firms available for hire to create such influence campaigns.
I knew Kathleen at MIT. Our dorm rooms were on the same hallway.
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#5

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Snopes: Anti-Lockdown Protests Originated With Tight-Knit Group Who Share Bigger Goal: Trump 2020

The driving force behind Michigan's anti-lockdown protests — and their connections to the family of Betsy DeVos — is even more complex than we initially thought.


The Activists Boosting Michigan’s Lockdown Protests on Facebook

We used the analytics tool Crowdtangle to collect a database of information on nearly 1,000 separate instances in which a Facebook account shared a lockdown-protest event page to a Facebook group in April 2020. We collected information from 39 different lockdown events across the country identified by key search terms, Facebook-recommended related events, and a list of protests advertised on the website of the libertarian-aligned group FreedomWorks (which has previously been supported by the DeVos family). The resulting report here concerns only data derived from Michigan, but the entire raw dataset, which includes other states, can be viewed here.

The information produced by this process aligns with previously reported aspects of the lockdown protest’s suspicious social media behavior. For example, the largest and most frequently used groups to spread these events were ones created by the Dorr brothers, four pro-gun activists. They created several anti-quarantine groups and associated websites — including Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine — days before Operation Gridlock, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people, as reported by the Washington Post and NBC News.

What our dataset adds to this discussion is an intricate chronology of the Michigan lockdown movement’s promotion on Facebook, allowing for the identification of a small group of activists who first pushed the protests’ online promotion and who subsequently received a disproportionate amount of media coverage. Our first step was to sort all instances of people sharing protest event pages chronologically. Doing so allowed us to view “bursts” of shares — times when a Facebook user either copy-and-pasted several invites to multiple groups manually, or times when, some of these Facebook users later told us, they used a recently allowed method for automatically posting to multiple Facebook groups at once.

Joan Donovan, an online extremism expert and the research director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, told us that Facebook groups have been the backbone of protest movements going back to the Occupy Wall Street movement of the 2010’s, and that this multiple-post feature can be a powerful messaging tool for activists. “It works really well in memetic warfare campaigns because you can post the same meme to a bunch of different groups,” she told us in a phone interview.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Addie
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#6

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Forbes: Bot Army Behind 'Reopen America' Push On Social Media, Study Finds

Despite overwhelming popular support for stay-at-home orders, there has been a strong push online to end lockdown measures—which one study found has been driven largely by bots.

An AP-NORC poll released Thursday shows 60% of Americans support a continued ban on non-essential movement, while 69% support bans on gatherings of more than 10 people.

Nonetheless, there’s been a surge of support on Twitter and other social media sites for ending lockdown measures and reopening America, a new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon finds.

The study analyzed over 200 million tweets in support of ending shutdown measures and found that 34% of accounts generating such content are “definitely bots,” while another 32% are “possibly humans with bot assistants.”
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#7

Post by Slim Cognito »

Addie wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:29 pm
NPR: Researchers: Nearly Half Of Accounts Tweeting About Coronavirus Are Likely Bots

....
Just got back on twitter after being kicked off a week ago for calling the new WH spox a bimbo. Was immediately bombarded with bot OPEN AMERICA - MASKS ARE A COMMUNIST PLOT! tweets and videos of the shoulder-to-shoulder, drunken partiers at my old stomping grounds, Lake of the Ozarks. I decided being banned wasn't such a bad thing so I decided to go big and referred to the subject above as a blow-up doll. (I was told one more out of line post and I 'm banned permanently. I was banned for 24 hours a year or so ago for saying the AL governor could eat shit and die.)

(not banned yet, but got a lot of likes.)
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#8

Post by kate520 »

Twitter is a cesspool. The Shit one sees...Yet bimbo is a bridge too far?
DEFEND DEMOCRACY

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Addie
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#9

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I always thought the worst of social media, but by now it's just rotten sick. :eek2:
Politico: American nationalists’ European vacation

U.S. groups have targeted European elections to try out online misinformation tactics ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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Addie
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Re: Coronavirus: Propaganda Bots on Social Media

#10

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CNET: More harm than good? Twitter struggles to label misleading COVID-19 tweets

News articles and tweets denouncing the 5G coronavirus conspiracy theory are being mislabeled.
"The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for." - Barbara Kingsolver

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