Social media is an ever-changing landscape of expression, connections, influence, and manipulation. In fact, this week, Twitter has decided to crack down on bot accounts and coordinated efforts to drive conversations. The lasting impact of this change has yet be determined, but it seems Twitter is attempting to combat the propagation of misinformation on their platform.
That being said, there are ways to identify bot accounts in services like Twitter. Whether you’re searching Twitter like a pro with the advanced search, archiving tweets with the TAGS Explorer Tool, or showcasing how easy it is to create bots, there are many opportunities for critically engaging students in social media.
Session Showcase & Discussion
This week we dove into many of the current issues facing social media. First, we explored the many social networks people participate in each day and focused on the ones people felt contained the most polarizing content. For example, there was consensus that Twitter and Facebook were the biggest players in the spread of misinformation.
Next, we explored ways that intentional propaganda seeks to divide us. This discussion included dissecting the strategies of trolls and state-sponsored propaganda. We also investigated the various behaviors exhibited by bot accounts and talked about strategies to identify these false players.
The role of algorithms in social media were also a topic of discussion as we explored how Pinterest’s personalization of content can lead people unknowingly to conspiracy theories.
Overall, this session served as an opportunity to showcase and explore the many ways that social media is impacting the conversations we’re having as a society and personally. We’ll continue these conversations as we explore privacy and ways to guard ourselves versus these technologies.
Based on your interests, continue to explore the readings, videos, activities, and curriculum listed below. Finally, you’re invited to reflect on all of these resources and this week’s topic using the form located at the bottom of this page.
- Reading: Exploring Mis/Disinformation On Pinterest by Amy Collier
- Video: Digital Polarization On Pinterest by Mike Caulfield
- Reading: Power, Polarization, and Tech by Chris Gilliard
- Video: Beware Online “filter bubbles” featuring Eli Pariser
- Video: How (and why) Russia hacked the US election featuring Laura Galante
- Reading: Crafting projects, Islam, and Russian propaganda from Data for Democracy
- Reading: How to Fool Americans on Twitter from Data for Democracy
- Reading: Correcting Misinformation on Social Media: Successes, Challenges, and Policy Implications by Leticia Bode & Emily K. Vraga
- Reading: Twitter is (finally) cracking down on bots from techcrunch.com
- Activity: Creating a Twitter Bot with Google Spreadsheets by Zach Whalen (based on a Lesson plan from Mia Zamora & Alan Levine)
- Activity: Track bots by capturing Tweets with TAGS Explorer from Martin Hawksey
- Reading: How Twitter Bots and Trump Fans Made #ReleaseTheMemo Go Viral from Molly K. McKew
- Reading: Spot a Bot: Identifying Automation and Disinformation on Social Media from Data for Democracy