Bots on Twitter share two-thirds of links to popular websites: Pew

TechCrunch | 4/9/2018 | Natasha Lomas
normanorma (Posted by) Level 4
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It’s official: Bots are doing a lot of PR grunt work on Twitter — especially when it comes to promoting porn websites.

That perhaps unsurprising conclusion about what automated Twitter accounts are link sharing comes courtesy of a new study by the Pew Research Center which set out to quantify one aspect of bot-based activity in the Twittersphere.

Researchers - Proportion - Links - Websites - Accounts

Specifically the researchers wanted to know what proportion of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts, rather than by human users?

The answer they came up with is that around two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by bots rather than humans.

Researchers - Bit - Information - Twitter - Though

The researchers say they were interested in trying to understand a bit more about how information spreads on Twitter. Though for this study they didn’t try to delve directly into more tricky (and sticky) questions about bots — like whether the information being spread by these robots is actually disinformation .

Pew’s researchers also didn’t try to determine whether the automated link PR activity actually led to significant levels of human engagement with the content in question. (Something that can be difficult for external researchers to determine because Twitter does not provide full access to how it shapes the visibility of tweets on its platform, nor data on how individual users are making use of controls and settings that can influence what they see or don’t on its platform).

Questions

So, safe to say, many bot-related questions remain to be robustly investigated.

Pew’s top-line conclusion is that suspected automated accounts played a prominent role in tweeting out links to content across the Twitter ecosystem — with an estimated 66% of all tweeted links to the most popular websites likely posted by automated accounts, rather than human users.

Researchers - Popularity - Analysis - Tweets - Links

The researchers determined website popularity by first conducting an analysis of 1.2 million English-language tweets containing links...
(Excerpt) Read more at: TechCrunch
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