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Twitter Friend or FOE Part 2 of 3

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Posted on July 15 2018

Twitter-Rise of the BOTS 2013

 

As you all know, Twitter’s user rate  grew at an explosive pace. So much so Twitter failed and continues to fail its actual human users. In late 2013 The New Yorker’s Rob Dubbin pubhlised this article

 

Rise of the Twitter Bots circa 2013

 

  • “Twitter bots are, essentially, computer programs that tweet of their own accord. While people access Twitter through its Web site and other clients, bots connect directly to the Twitter mainline”

  • ‘Twitter’s wide-open application programming interface, or A.P.I. The bots, whose DNA can be written in nearly any modern programming language, live on cloud servers, which never go dark and grow cheaper by the day. “

  • Twitter bots represent an open-access laboratory for creative programming, where good techniques can be adapted and bad ones can form the compost for newer, better ideas…”

  • “Twitter bots foreground the influence of automation on modern life, and they demystify it somewhat in the process.”

 

 

In researching Russia, Russian Disinformation, Subversion, and Active Measures. I wanted to know  how Russia & Social Media Companies like Twitter & Facebook impacted our 2016 Elections. And how it’s currently impacting our extreme partisan civil discourse. I theorized that Russia most likely started beta testing bots in 2014, possibly as early as 2013.

 

The Kansas Star published this article, Russian Bots & Trolls KKK 2015

Nov. 11, 2015, after “#PrayforMizzou started to trend on Twitter in the wake of student protests over racial issues at the University of Missouri*. Since 2015 there has been ample public reporting on: what did Russia really do and what role (if any) did American based Social Media Companies play.

The long story, short is social media platforms like twitter and Facebook were and still ARE being weaponized to as a primary vehicle to sow discord. That’s not an opinion that’s actually fact. Case in point in September of 2017, the Washington Post published this article

 

In which Senator Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee offered this concise and pointed quote, as it relates to merits with Twotter’s Executive Team:

The company "showed an enormous lack of understanding . . . about how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions," a visibly frustrated Warner said. 

 

The Washington Post went on to report that, YES in fact Russia used and targeted Black Lives Matter, Ferguson and Baltimore:

 

Washington Post reported this week that some of the 3,000 Facebook ads bought by Russian operatives promoted African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter. Those ads were targeted at users in specific locations such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, two cities that have faced violent protests over police shootings of black men. Ads aimed at voters in other regions, meanwhile, suggested that the same groups posed a rising political threat.

 

 

Winter 2017:

Shortly thereafter, in the Winter of 2017, Lt. Col Jarred Prier UASF published the Strategic Studies Quarterly ♦ Winter 2017

 

*Commanding the Trend: Social Media as Information Warfare, written by Lt Col Jarred Prier, USAF.

 

I strongly recommend that you read this report Strategic Studies – Lt Col Jarred Prier, USAF

 

  • “Twitter and Facebook employ an algorithm to analyze words, phrases, or hashtags to create a list of topics sorted in order of popularity. is “trend list” is a quick way to review…”

  • A 2011 study on social media, a trending topic “will capture the attention of a large audience for a short time” and thus “contributes to agenda setting mechanisms.”

  • Using existing online networks in conjunction with automatic “bot” accounts, foreign agents can insert propaganda into a social media platform…rapidly disseminate a message faster and cheaper than through any other medium.

  • Social media facilitates the spread of a narrative outside a particular social cluster of true believers by commanding the trend.

 

 

 

This White Paper ran two case studies, the criterion: state vs non-state actors, the distinction between Facebook v Twitter, not just in corporate philosophy but purpose of each socia media network. The narrative presented and competently argued is: you don’t need a massive network to spread disinformation and/or propaganda.  

 

It hinges on “four factors”

  • (1) a message that ts an existing, even if obscure, narrative
  • (2) a group of true believers predisposed to the message;
  • (3) a relatively small team of agents or cyber warriors; and
  • (4) a network of automated “bot” accounts.

by late 2015 Twitter

 

 🇷🇺Russian Cyber weapon🇷🇺

 

Twitter’s SEC reports, Bots an Bots

 

use the following key words to search the data:

  • User, Account, Automated, False
  • USER Data found on 10Q filings
  • “single person or organization as multiple users for purposes of calculating our active users because we permit people and organizations to have more than one account

Below is the link to Twitter’s SEC filing, based on a few hours of reading their filings, it’s super clear to me that Twitter’s Users, User turn over rate and 3rd party apps are Twitter’s Corporate Lifeblood.

Twitter’s SEC Filings 2013 to present

 

Remarkably in 2013 Twitter “self reported” via their SEC filing that some 13.5M twitter accounts were “bots”, but that 13.5M bot accounts was later updated to 23M based on Twitter’s own SEC filing, found here

 

2015 Harvard Business Review

Bots how Bots Took Over Twitter

  • “In their explanations for why Twitter ain’t what it used to be, critics often cite the proliferation of spam accounts: robots that exist purely for the sake of padding out follower numbers and hijacking hashtags.”

 

See 2017 White Paper published by Scientist from USC & IU.

Link to their findings here

USC & IU say Twitter has 48M bots

  • “University of Southern California & Indiana University, up to 15 percent of Twitter accounts are in fact bots rather than people”
  •  In 2017 they estimated Twitter had 48,000,000 bot accounts

 

In 2017 Oxford University Published numerous White Papers, focusing on Twitter’s pervasive Bot problem.

Link to September 2017 Oxford Paper here

Oxford University Bots & Elections

 

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