Twitter’s Disinformation Data Dumps Are Helpfulto a Point

In October 2017, Twitter general counsel Sean Edgett faced difficult questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about foreign interference in the 2016 election. Flanked by representatives from Facebook and Google, Edgett explained how Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) had systematically spread fake news and stoked partisan sentiment through a carefully coordinated, years-long social media campaign. A year later, Twitter released an archive of more than 10 million tweets, from 3,841 accounts it said were affiliated with the IRA, hoping to encourage “open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics.” The company has followed with additional data dumps, most recently last month when it released details of accounts linked to Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and the Catalan independence movement …

Does Twitter Even Know How to Tweet?

Franz Reichelt, the Flying Taylor, leapt from the Eiffel Tower on February 4, 1912, expecting his homemade parachute to do its job. Nobody actually thought he would jump. To secure deck access, Reichelt had assured Parisian police that he would be sending a dummy over the edge. When the chute failed to fill, it was very much a real person who hit the ground. The French press immediately seized upon Reichelt as a morality tale—the foolish Icarian inventor who disregarded warnings and became the broken embodiment of the cost of moving too fast. The modern-day Reichelt is not a man, but a corporation: Twitter. The social media platform is, as everyone has said innumerable times, deeply flawed, yet it blithely …

Black People Asked White People About Things They Dont Understand About Them And Actually Received Frank Answers

A few years back, when social media was in its infancy and people were thinking about its potential to change the world, we imagined all the ways that it would help to bring us together. Easy and instant communication with people from all over the planet would surely break down the artificial borders constructed between us, and lead to greater cultural exchange, mutual understanding and a shared humanity that could help us to solve the bigger global problems that affect us all. Sadly, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Sure, there are some great examples of social media being a force for the common good, but ultimately we are a tribal species, and we seem to prefer segregating ourselves …

The Mosque Shooter Exploited the Power of the Internet

After each new horrific mass shooting, an all-too-familiar cycle often plays out: Reporters (myself included) race to attempt to unpack an alleged shooter’s possible motivations by piecing together clues from their social media accounts and online postings before it all gets scrubbed from the internet. We do this in the hopes that it will somehow provide a window into their mindset in the months leading up to the attack, or at least bring us somewhat closer to answering that ultimately unanswerable question: Why? But this approach carries with it potentially dangerous unintended consequences. At least 49 people were killed on Friday during attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and like clockwork the cycle began almost immediately. But this …