Twitter and Information Warfare

DurinMagnifying glass of 'facts' with lies around itg the 2016 election season, the United States saw a misinformation campaign larger then we’ve ever seen before. With tens of thousands of “fake news” posts proliferating across social media platforms, confusion and suspicion spread rapidly and dangerously. While there is still much to learn, the Knight Foundation recently released a report titled Disinformation ‘Fake News’ and Influence Campaigns which compiled one the largest analyses to date. Using Graphika, the Knight Foundation synthesized over 10 million tweets originating from–or linked to–fake news/conspiracy news outlets. This is just one many analyses we must do to fully grasp the impact misinformation has on the public, especially with regards to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Astonishingly, many fake news outlets are still active today though they continue to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. If Twitters suspends the account, they often reemerge with new names and similar messages. With the continued growth of these fake news outlets, we cannot underestimate these misinformation campaigns. In 2017, automated accounts (or fake profiles) accounted for approximately 4 million Tweets that occurred in the span of a single month.

Additionally, this issue spans the political spectrum. Fake news outlets utilized both right-wing and left-wing conspiracies during the election season to confuse and divide the population. According to the report, right-wing fake news sites appear to be dominating Twitter while left-leaning fake news sites have tempered. Today we see broad conspiracy theories traced back to Russia often bridging out of older conspiracy theories. This suggests that Russia serves as “a broker of fake news.” As we continue to learn the impact of disinformation in emerging media, we must remain cautious with the news we consume.

If you’d like to learn more about fake news and cybersecurity check out the Featured Topics section of HSDL. Or if you need to find additional resources, then Ask one of our librarians for assistance!