Users Structure And Behavior On An Online Social Network During A Political Protest Pdf

users structure and behavior on an online social network during a political protest pdf

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Fighting Coronavirus Misinformation and Disinformation

A woman wears a plastic glove while holding her cell phone during the coronavirus pandemic, April 9, , in New York City. Social media platforms must fundamentally rethink their products to reduce the health risks posed by disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus crisis.

Although online disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus are different—the former is the intentional spreading of false or misleading information and the latter is the unintentional sharing of the same—both are a serious threat to public health. Social media platforms have facilitated an informational environment that, in combination with other factors, has complicated the public health response, enabled widespread confusion, and contributed to loss of life during the pandemic.

Looking ahead, the Center for American Progress expects disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus to shift and worsen. As public health conditions vary more widely across the United States, this geographic variation will be an ideal vector for malicious actors to exploit.

Without robust local media ecosystems, it will be especially difficult for social media platforms to moderate place-based disinformation and misinformation. Long-term regulatory action will be needed to address the structural factors that contribute to an online environment in which misinformation and disinformation thrive. In the near term, social media platforms must do more to reduce the harm they facilitate, starting with fast-moving coronavirus misinformation and disinformation.

Social media platforms should go further in addressing coronavirus misinformation and disinformation by structurally altering how their websites function. For the sake of public health, social media platforms must change their product features designed to incentivize maximum engagement and amplify the most engaging posts over all others. Doing so will require fundamental changes to the user-facing products and to back-end algorithms that deliver content and make recommendations.

Platforms must pair these changes with unprecedented transparency in order to enable independent researchers and civil society groups to appropriately study their effects. These principles are discussed in detail below, and suggestions are listed for convenience in the Appendix.

Examples of changes recommended include:. Disinformation online thrives in crisis. Simultaneously, ongoing global attention and evolving scientific understanding of the novel coronavirus have created conditions for widespread sharing of misinformation—a problem in and of itself and a problem in the way it aids disinformation producers.

Due to the prevalence of disinformation and misinformation on social media platforms, their use has become a health risk 2 during the coronavirus crisis. As the United States enters the next phase of the pandemic, which will bring even greater variation in public health conditions across the country, CAP is concerned that coronavirus disinformation and misinformation problems will intensify online. But as the United States faces the further disintegration of the shared reality of the pandemic, the need to do more than elevate authoritative information and reactively moderate harmful information is clear.

The initial shared reality of the pandemic in the United States—with many states issuing stay-at-home orders to flatten the curve—has grown less universal. COVID conditions have begun to vary substantially by geography: With some areas successfully suppressing the virus, some managing ongoing growth, and others grappling with re-outbreaks, one can expect a greater variety of state- or local-specific public health measures.

The differentiation of public health conditions, lack of certainty around the coronavirus, and lack of local media resources are likely to lead to continued spread of misinformation. For malicious actors, the local variation in COVID conditions and response is a ripe opportunity to sow division, cause chaos, and splinter what remains of a shared nationwide narrative and sense of reality.

Due especially to the hollowing out of local media ecosystems over the past two decades, 4 communities are informationally vulnerable to place-based misinformation and disinformation. The coronavirus crisis presents an ideal vector to exploit. The issue of pandemic response is, as already demonstrated, 5 an easy informational vehicle for driving political polarization, 6 harassing others, 7 dehumanizing people of color, 8 and gaining power and attention online.

There is a need for regulatory action against social media platforms. Effectively addressing online disinformation and misinformation problems will require regulatory change and structural reckoning with the fundamentally predatory elements of current business models.

Ideally, this crisis will catalyze swift, systemic change from both Congress and companies, with many excellent proposals emerging along those lines from advocates and experts. In this report, the authors wish to expand the conversation about COVID response measures on social media to include proactive, near-term product strategies that could also mitigate pandemic disinformation. The authors recommend strategies to provide greater product context for users and to increase product friction; intentional friction would introduce front-end features that invite a user to be more thoughtful in engaging or sharing content, and back-end friction would alter the content algorithms that determine what content a user sees.

These recommendations run counter to the frictionless product experience idealized by social media platforms, but they should serve as a call to action to others in reimagining the status quo.

Misinformation about the coronavirus has plagued effective public health response from the start. Complicating the situation, prominent public figures—including celebrities and politicians—were among the primary drivers of engagement around COVID misinformation in early Compounding the problem in the United States, disinformation producers seized on the COVID pandemic as a way to advance their goals and agendas by accelerating chaos online.

Disinformation producers—and far-right and white supremacist ecosystems in particular 16 —have long sought to exploit crisis moments to amplify false, conspiratorial, and hateful narratives. Conspiracy theories have generally thrived in crisis, 17 but the modern social media environment and the sudden forced movement of attention online during stay-at-home orders have been a gift to malicious actors.

Leveraging prevailing uncertainty, a demand for information, and an audience stuck online, these groups have effectively deployed disinformation strategies to pervert perceptions of public opinion and warp public discourse for their own gain.

The coronavirus crisis was merely the most recent topic weaponized by the far-right disinformation ecosystem to spread racist narratives, undermine democratic institutions, and cause chaos. Disinformation and misinformation differ on intent: 19 Disinformation is considered to be the intentional creation or sharing of false or misleading information, whereas spreading misinformation is considered to be unintentional sharing.

This apathy toward truth, or exhaustion with the difficulty in discerning it amid informational chaos online, is a feeling that disinformation producers have sought to increase.

Russian information operations, for example, have long sought to erode trust in democratic institutions and processes by informationally exhausting Americans in hopes that they will give up or tune out.

Platforms, for their part, were quick to respond once the pandemic hit the United States. YouTube, 23 Facebook, 24 Instagram, 25 Reddit, 26 Twitter, 27 TikTok, 28 WhatsApp, 29 Snapchat, 30 and others pledged varying approaches to elevating authoritative information and stemming the tide of disinformation or coordinated inauthentic behavior, among other efforts.

Advocates and scholars have long called for varied but dramatic improvements to platform moderation systems. Helping people find trustworthy information about COVID is also complicated by the dynamic social and scientific processes that are unfolding live: This virus is new, uncertainties abound, and scientific understanding is rapidly evolving.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC initially recommended against masks—for a mix of public health, political, and economic reasons—skepticism in public discourse raised the alarm that this may not be wise. Moreover, trust in government hovered at historic lows even before the recent protests against police brutality. Substantial uncertainty remains about COVID, and the public will need to continue grappling with various aspects of pandemic response at regional, state, and local levels.

But as these conditions begin to vary more widely over time, it will be increasingly difficult for platforms to have eyes on the sensemaking process playing out in their spaces.

Platforms have struggled to keep pace with national guidance, which has been itself erratic at times, and this challenge will only compound with the growing variation in pandemic conditions. Such on-the-ground variation, combined with a demand for information and a lack of local media outlets, may also facilitate place-based misinformation.

COVID is an ideal informational vehicle for disinformation producers to exploit for creating false perceptions of reality locally and elsewhere. With limited quality information sources at state and local levels, it is exceedingly easy to misrepresent local-level events and conditions to cause chaos and provide fake evidence or a sense of momentum for broader disinformation narratives.

Effective public health responses could be derailed by place-based disinformation. As a consequence, public perception of the pandemic in the United States could be drastically influenced. Coming shifts in the pandemic landscape will be difficult to navigate through reactive content moderation strategies alone, particularly at a time when platforms are ill-equipped to safely support the work of content moderators and to reorient their automated systems to tackle the emerging issues presented by COVID Critically, the sheer scale of this challenge requires that every tool in the toolbox be on the table, especially the very products with which users interact.

These product changes must be deployed and tested by the companies with a rapidity that matches the urgency of the moment. If paired with unprecedented transparency measures to help the public understand and to improve existing efforts, all of these are steps that can be implemented now, during the coronavirus crisis, and can be assessed as time goes on.

There is a narrow window for platforms to make product changes to stymie the worst effects of this upcoming shift in COVID misinformation and disinformation. Efforts to uplift authoritative information and more effectively moderate harmful information posted to platforms should not obscure the fact that there is also a broader range of structural product features that social media companies have created and designed that could be altered to address the problem.

Product-level changes would adjust the content users see and the interfaces they use to interact with that content, such as changes to the interface on sharing a post or how the information in that post is presented.

These recommendations are discussed in narrative form below and listed along with additional suggestions in the Appendix. Within user experience design, friction is generally understood to be anything that inhibits user action within a digital interface, 57 particularly anything that requires an additional click or screen.

Companies reduce friction to make it as easy as possible for users to engage and spend as long as possible on the platform.

At present, there are a number of product features that enable the creation and rapid spread of harmful misinformation. These features are working exactly as intended—making it easy to create and share content and then amplifying that content because it is highly engaging.

These features, as part of a frictionless user experience, work in tandem with content recommendation algorithms—those that determine what users see in newsfeeds, trending sections, homepages, and various recommendations sections.

Capturing more user time means more advertising can be sold. User behavioral data drawn from engagement means that advertising can be targeted more precisely, and thus be more profitable. On both counts, social media algorithms are optimized for engagement at the expense of any other value. Frictionless user experiences incentivize sharing, and engagement algorithmic systems amplify the most engaging and outrageous content.

Predicated on greater transparency, CAP recommends changes that add both front-end friction and back-end friction—that is to say, changes visible in the user interface as well as algorithmic changes that occur under the hood. Back-end efforts in this spirit would include introducing internal structural measures to slow the creation and spread of potentially harmful content. While these changes would be intertwined and are mutually influential, both front-end and back-end approaches could discourage the creation of harmful content in the first place and help arrest its spread once published.

Developing virality circuit breakers. Platforms have total control of algorithmic recommendation systems, but the opacity of platforms and their resistance to collaboration with researchers or regulators have complicated research in this area. The fact that the billions of social media users in a contextless, opaque online environment have no safety checks and fewer resources should give one pause.

Platforms will likely review harmful coronavirus information that reaches large audiences at some point, but reviewing and taking down posts after they have already gone viral often means the damage is already done. In order to create a body of work to inform the development of a viral circuit breaker, platforms should begin by using internal data from past user interactions and identified examples of viral COVID misinformation to retroactively examine the spread of previous misinformation.

That analysis should then be used to identify common patterns among viral COVID disinformation to model the impact of potential interventions. Platforms should rapidly and transparently collaborate, test, and identify reliable indicators of harmful posts to carefully hone such a detection system—opening this process to contribution from researchers, journalists, technologists, and civil society groups across the world.

Until that review, fast-growing viral content believed to be related to the coronavirus could trigger an internal viral circuit breaker that temporarily prevents the content from algorithmic amplification in newsfeeds, appearing in trending topics, or other algorithmically aggregated and promoted avenues. Individual posting or message sharing could still occur—with the user warnings outlined below—but the algorithmic pause would allow the necessary time for a platform to review.

Such a feature may have prevented the viral spread of recent coronavirus conspiracy videos that rapidly republicized harmful, already debunked coronavirus falsehoods. Viral content should automatically be placed at the top of a queue for third-party fact-checking. Platforms should test numerous combinations of these interventions and conduct both short- and long-term polling and observation of the effects.

Given the potential broad benefit for others, platforms should partner with researchers and enable independent study of this and other questions around such interventions. While it would be difficult to develop a system to identify all harmful posts about the coronavirus as they begin trending, even flagging and reviewing some posts earlier could be an effective mitigation approach to these posts.

It would also provide those users contributing to virality a chance to pause and reassess. Rethinking autoplay. Platforms that enable video autoplay should rethink the algorithms behind video autoplay queues and suggested videos.

Video autoplay algorithms have been shown to be radicalizing forces for users. YouTube, 69 TikTok, 70 and Snapchat 71 have all already curated authoritative coronavirus content. This authoritative content should be prioritized within next-to-play video queues on any subjects related to the coronavirus.

Adding friction for audience acquisition. Serial producers or sharers of coronavirus misinformation should be removed from recommendation algorithms for accounts to follow and friend and as groups to join.

Executive Summary

Recent media revelations have demonstrated the extent of third-party tracking and monitoring online, much of it spurred by data aggregation, profiling, and selective targeting. How to protect privacy online is a frequent question in public discourse and has reignited the interest of government actors. In the United States, notice-and-consent remains the fallback approach in online privacy policies, despite its weaknesses. This essay presents an alternative approach, rooted in the theory of contextual integrity. Proposals to improve and fortify notice-and-consent, such as clearer privacy policies and fairer information practices, will not overcome a fundamental flaw in the model, namely, its assumption that individuals can understand all facts relevant to true choice at the moment of pair-wise contracting between individuals and data gatherers.

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A woman wears a plastic glove while holding her cell phone during the coronavirus pandemic, April 9, , in New York City. Social media platforms must fundamentally rethink their products to reduce the health risks posed by disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus crisis. Although online disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus are different—the former is the intentional spreading of false or misleading information and the latter is the unintentional sharing of the same—both are a serious threat to public health. Social media platforms have facilitated an informational environment that, in combination with other factors, has complicated the public health response, enabled widespread confusion, and contributed to loss of life during the pandemic. Looking ahead, the Center for American Progress expects disinformation and misinformation about the coronavirus to shift and worsen.

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Metrics details. Large-scale protests occur frequently and sometimes overthrow entire political systems. We present a large-scale longitudinal study that connects online social media behaviors to offline protest. Using almost 14 million geolocated tweets and data on protests from 16 countries during the Arab Spring, we show that increased coordination of messages on Twitter using specific hashtags is associated with increased protests the following day. The results also show that traditional actors like the media and elites are not driving the results.

Social media use in politics refers to the use of online social media platforms in political processes and activities. Political processes and activities include all activities that pertain to the governance of a country or area. This includes political organization , global politics , political corruption , political parties , and political values.

Quantum computers offer great promise for cryptography and optimization problems. ZDNet explores what quantum computers will and won't be able to do, and the challenges we still face. Read More. In , some 2. By a margin of 57 to 43, those readers reported they favored the Republican governor of Kansas, Alf Landon, over the incumbent Democrat, Franklin D.

Social media use in politics

Actors of public interest today have to fear the adverse impact that stems from social media platforms. Any controversial behavior may promptly trigger temporal, but potentially devastating storms of emotional and aggressive outrage, so called online firestorms. Popular targets of online firestorms are companies, politicians, celebrities, media, academics and many more.

Online social networks and offline protest

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Request PDF | Users Structure and Behavior on an Online Social Network During a Political Protest | Over the past years, new technologies.

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