Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and tweeters are just some of them (11)


The New York Times, 11 July 2017:

WASHINGTON — A group of Twitter users blocked by President Trump sued him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he, as a government official, cannot bar people from.

The blocked Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, raised cutting-edge issues about how the Constitution applies to the social media era. They say Mr. Trump cannot bar people from engaging with his account because they expressed opinions he did not like, such as mocking or criticizing him.

“The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,” the lawsuit said.

By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Mr. Trump is violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit argued.

It offered several theories to back that notion. They included arguments that Mr. Trump was imposing an unconstitutional restriction on the plaintiffs’ ability to participate in a designated public forum, get access to statements the government had otherwise made available to the public and petition the government for “redress of grievances.”

Filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit also names Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, and Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s director of social media, as defendants. It seeks a declaration that Mr. Trump’s blocking of the plaintiffs was unconstitutional, an injunction requiring him to unblock them and prohibiting him from blocking others for the views they express, and legal fees.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Just one more thing that is fake about Donald Trump

It’s not just his 'orange' tan or his self-reported degree of personal wealth which is fake - it seems Donald J. Trump’s Twitter numbers are not what they seem either.

At least 12.9 million fake followers last week and 14.7 million followers without a pulse this week. 

Wonder how long it actually took the White House 'communications' team to amass that many proofs of his social inadequacy? Creating an extra 1.8 million little Twitter bots to boost that king-sized ego must have his minions' thumbs working frantically.

Each audit takes a sample of up to 5000 (or more, if you subscribe to Pro) Twitter followers for a user and calculates a score for each follower. This score is based on number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends. We use these scores to determine whether any given user is real or fake. Of course, this scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means.
TwitterAudit is not affiliated with Twitter in any way.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Trump's bully boys went after Twitter, then turned tail and ran

US President Donald Trump's bully boys issued a summons on 14 March 2017:

This is an action to prevent the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"), and the individual Defendants from unlawfully abusing a limited-purpose investigatory tool to try to unmask the real identity of one or more persons who have been using Twitter's social media platform, and specifically a Twitter account named @ALT_USCIS, to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration. The rights of free speech afforded Twitter's users and Twitter itself under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution include a right to disseminate such anonymous or pseudonymous political speech. In these circumstances, Defendants may not compel Twitter to disclose information regarding the real identities of these users without first demonstrating that some criminal or civil offense has been committed, that unmasking the users' identity is the least restrictive means for investigating that offense, that the demand for this information is not motivated by a desire to suppress free speech, and that the interests of pursuing that investigation outweigh the important First Amendment rights of Twitter and its users. But Defendants have not come close to making any of those showings. And even if Defendants could otherwise demonstrate an appropriate basis for impairing the First Amendment interests of Twitter and its users, they certainly may not do so using the particular investigatory tool employed here—which Congress authorized solely to ensure compliance with federal laws concerning imported merchandise—because it is apparent that whatever investigation Defendants are conducting here does not pertain to imported merchandise.

@ALT_uscis weighs in:

The American Civil Liberties Union joins the fray:
On 8 April it was announced that the Trump Adminstration had withdrawn the summons.

Reuters, 8 April 2017:

The abrupt end to the dispute may indicate that Justice Department lawyers did not like their chances of succeeding in a fight about speech rights, said Jamie Lee Williams, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for digital rights.

"It seemed like a blatant attempt to censor or chill the people behind this account, or to retaliate against people who are speaking out against this administration," Williams said.

"This could have been a huge loss for the administration in court," she added.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Quotes of the Week

Those who ignore history are condemned to retweet it. 
[David Brooks writing in The New York Times on 8 April 2017]

The algorithm purportedly used by the Department to match business names between the ATO dataset and Centrelink data was leaked to the media, and I undertook an analysis of it. This algorithm is breathtakingly naïve and will result in incorrect matches for common situations such as typographical errors, misplaced punctuation, and the legal entity name being different from the business trading name. The potential for mismatches is significant. Various more sophisticated fuzzy matching algorithms are readily available. [Senate Standing Committees On Community Affairs, Inquiry Into Design, Scope, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Contracts Awarded And Implementation Associated With The Better Management Of The Social Welfare System Initiative, Submission 38]

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Examining the Alternative Media Ecosystem using Twitter

In the aftermath of major political disruptions in 2016—in Britain with the Brexit vote and in the United States with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency—there has been widespread attention to and theorizing about the problem of “fake news”. But this term is both amorphous and contested. One perspective locates the problem within the emerging ecosystem of alternative media, where the term has been applied to refer to “clickbait” content that uses tabloid-style headlines to attract viewers for financial reasons (Silverman & Alexander 2016) and to describe political propaganda intentionally planted and propagated through online spaces (Timberg 2016). Challenging these definitions, alternative media outlets have appropriated the term to attack “mainstream” media for its perceived economic and political biases and for hosting inaccurate or under-sourced content (e.g. Rappoport 2016). Beneath this rhetoric, we are seeing traditional new providers and emergent alternative media battle not only for economic viability, but over accepted methods of how information is shared and consumed, and, more profoundly, for how narratives around that information are shaped and by whom.

This research seeks to provide a systematic lens for exploring the production of a certain type of “fake news”— alternative narratives of man-made crisis events. For three years, our research group has examined online rumoring during crises. Over that time, we noted the presence of very similar rumors across many man-made crisis events— including the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and several mass shooting events including those at Umpqua Community College in Oregon (October, 2015). For each event, rumors claimed the event had been perpetrated by someone other than the official suspects—that it was instead either a staged event performed by “crisis actors” or a “false flag” orchestrated by someone else. Both explanations claimed that a powerful individual or group was pulling the strings for political reasons. Interestingly, though the arguments and evidence used to support these alternative narratives were somewhat consistent across events, the motives cited were often very different—e.g. from the U.S. government trying to support gun control to coordinated global actors staging violence to motivate military intervention.

For this paper, we utilize this type of conspiracy theory or alternative narrative rumor as an entry point for understanding the ecosystem of alternative media. We examine the production of these narratives through Twitter and across the external websites that Twitter users reference as they engage in these narratives. We propose and demonstrate that this lens—Twitter data from mass shooting events and our method for utilizing that data to reveal and explore connections across web domains—provides a systematic approach for shedding light on the emerging phenomena of alternative media and “fake news”.

Our contributions include an increased understanding of the underlying nature of this subsection of alternative media—which hosts conspiratorial content and conducts various anti-globalist political agendas. Noting thematic convergence across domains, we theorize about how alternative media may contribute to conspiratorial thinking by creating a false perception of information diversity……

We collected tweets related to shooting events for more than ten months in 2016. This time period included several high profile shooting events, including mass shootings with civilian casualties at an Orlando, FL nightclub on June 12, in a shopping district in Munich, Germany on July 22, and at a mall in Burlington, WA on September 23. Each of these events catalyzed considerable discussion online and elsewhere about the details and motives of the attack— including claims of the attack being a “false flag”.

More than half of our alternative narrative collection (30,361 tweets) relates to the Orlando event, including:

@ActivistPost: "Was Orlando Shooting A False Flag? Shooter Has Ties To FBI, Regular At Club, Did Not Act Alone? "

This tweet is typical of an alternative narrative tweet, leveraging uncertainty in the form of a leading question (Starbird et al. 2016) to present its theory. The linked-to article—whose title is the content of this tweet—presents evidence to support the theory, including facts about the case (such as previous contact between the FBI and the shooter) and perceived connections to past events that are similarly claimed to be false flags. The underlying theme here is that the U.S. government perpetrated the shooting with the intention of blaming it on Islamic terrorism. This tweet’s author, the ActivistPost, is associated with one of the central nodes in our network graph (see Figures 1-3), referenced in 191 tweets by 153 users and connected (by user activity) to a relatively high number of other domains.

The following tweet, by an account associated with a domain that has a strong edge tie with ActivistPost, forwards a similarly themed alternative narrative:

@veteranstoday: Orlando nightclub shooting: Yet another false flag? - looks like another PR extravaganza

This article was linked-to 147 times in our data. The tweet and the article feature an image with the title, “Omar Mateen: Patsy or MK Mind-Control Slave”. The term patsy is often used to label an accused perpetrator who has been framed for the incident by government or other powerful groups. MK Mind-Control refers to a CIA project that experimented with mind control in the 1950s. This speculative tweet and related article therefore present two potential explanations of the Orlando shooting event, both building off alternative narratives used in previous events. The underlying claim here is that the named suspect was not responsible for the Orlando shootings, but that the U.S. government was. This claim is extended in the article to apply to other violent acts attributed to Muslim terrorists.

Alternative narratives around the Munich shooting had a similar theme, though blame was pushed onto international geo-political actors: Desperate Zionists Commit Another Fraud with Munich Shooting Hoax - NODISINFO

The above tweet links to an article (tweeted 54 times) within the domain, one of the most highly tweeted and highly connected domains in our data. Citing photographic evidence from the scene, the article claims that the shooting was a drill, staged by crisis actors. All of these terms echo other alternative narratives of other events. Diverging from the Orlando narratives, which blame the U.S. government, in this case the accused “real” perpetrators are Zionists—echoing long-active narratives about covert power wielded by Jewish bankers and others. The article offers no evidence to support that connection other than reference to other “staged” events.

The Cascade Mall Shooting in Burlington, Washington referenced a third kind of alternative narrative that has appeared after many U.S.-based shootings, including the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012 and the Umpqua School shooting in 2015. This narrative claims that these mass shooting events are again staged using crisis actors, but in this case by the left-leaning U.S. government to provide a political basis for reducing gun rights.

Absence Of Footage Of Wounded/Deceased Victims. Media Were Told Victims Remained In The Mall #Cascade #FalseFlag

This tweet suggests that there were no actual victims of the event. It links to an article on the domain, which also has a relatively high degree in our network graph and was tweeted 125 times. The linked-to article assembles evidence to make a case for the event being a drill and describes an outlook that connects several events to this narrative: “Such events are reported on by major news media uncritically, thus supporting the call for strengthened gun control measures. […]”

Interestingly, the second most highly referenced event in our alternative narrative collection from 2016 (at 5,914 tweets) is the Sandy Hook shootings, which occurred in 2012. Though a large portion of those tweets contest or deny that alternative narrative, several utilize Sandy Hook “evidence” to support alternative narratives around more recent events. For example:

Orlando shooting was a hoax. Just like Sandy Hook, Boston Bombing, and San Bernandino. Keep believing Rothschild Zionist news companies. More Orlando shooting Hoax – proof - same actors in Sandy hook & Boston Marathon Fake bombing - gun take away agenda.

These two tweets both connect the Orlando Shooting to claims that Sandy Hook was a hoax. In the first, the author refers to the “Rothschild Zionist news companies”, a reference to anti-globalist and anti-media viewpoints that appear as major themes across many alternative news sites. The second tweet connects Orlando to Sandy Hook (and paradoxically the Boston Marathon bombings) as part of an ongoing agenda to reduce gun rights in the U.S.

Taken together, these examples describe a few of what turns out to be a collection of distinct alternative narratives that share several common features. As the above tweets highlight at the micro-level, at the macro-level our domain data demonstrate that different alternative narratives are connected across users and sites—e.g. some users reference both (which assigns blame to U.S. government officials trying to take away gun rights) and and/or (which theorize that international conspirators set up these events to further their political agendas by falsely blaming Muslim terrorists). Our tweet and domain data suggest that the production of these narratives is a distributed activity where “successful” elements (e.g. drills, crisis actors, Zionist conspirators) of one narrative are combined with others in a mutually reinforcing manner……

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Cottoning on to Donald Trump's tweets

Graphic by @gibilisco

Excerpt from A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets interview with cognitive linguist George Lakoff, 13 January 2017:

BROOKE GLADSTONE:  Obviously, you don't think the media are handling these utterances very well. What do you suggest that we do?

GEORGE LAKOFF:  The media is addicted to breaking news, so we have to give the tweet first. That’s the breaking news. Wrong, because that allows him to manipulate you as a reporter and manipulate the truth.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:  So you're saying don't report on the tweet?

GEORGE LAKOFF:  You begin by telling the truth and giving the evidence for that truth, then mention his tweet, point out that that contradicts the truth and then talk about what kind of tweet this is. You know, you say, this is a case of diversion. Here’s what he is diverting, quickly. Don't have a panel discussion about it, you know, [LAUGHS] just do it and go on. Keep going back to substance and the truth.

Also, what is the effect of his tweeting on the truth? He’s trying to say, usually, that this truth is a general truth. And that’s another thing that I should add to this list of the things he does, is to take a specific case and say that it's the general case.

The Guardian, 7 March 2017:

President Donald Trump is the most powerful cornered animal in the world

For all his inconstancy of character, Donald Trump is a master manipulator. He rose to political prominence by slandering Barack Obama. He rode the birther myth as far as it would go – before brazenly jettisoning it with the insistence that it was all the handiwork of Hillary Clinton.

Now once again, he seeks to buoy his political fortunes by attacking Obama. Perhaps what is so striking about the tweets is not their desperation, but their cynicism. In exclaiming “This is McCarthyism!”, Trump said something deeply revealing – only about himself. McCarthyism was never in the first instance about wiretapping. It was about defaming public officials with charges of treason without a shred of evidence. Sounds familiar, no?

Equally revealing was Trump’s tweet: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” As Trump well knows, a good lawyer can make a case out of anything.

In the 1970s, after the justice department accused the Trump Corporation of racially discriminatory rental policies, Trump hired Roy Cohn. This was a man who, as a young lawyer, had assisted Joseph McCarthy’s red-baiting. On Trump’s behalf, Cohn countersued the government for $100m, a tactic Trump absorbed and has practiced throughout his career: when on the defensive, attack.

Concerned about congressional investigations into contact between his campaign and the Russians? Make a groundless charge of wiretapping against Obama and insist that the allegations be included in the investigations.

Cohn’s countersuit did not prevail, nor will Trump’s charges against Obama stick. But that is not the point. The point is to distract attention away from real allegations by creating a chaos of conflicting claims. And in this regard the strategy is all too effective. If there is something extraordinary about Trump it is how low he is willing to go……

Since his inauguration a scant six weeks ago, Trump has defamed a great newspaper, a federal judge, and a former president. He has attacked whole institutions, pillars of American democracy. He appears willing to hold a great constitutional order hostage to his narcissism and political insecurities.

One wishes to echo the words of Joseph Welch who famously asked of Joe McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Take a bow Twitter in Australia - a large part of the reason Turnbull & Co weren't unconditionally loved by the electorate on 2 July 2016 is your fault!

Excerpt from Sky News Australian Agenda 3 July 2016 interview with Liberal Senator for Tasmania George Brandis:

Can I just ask, do you think we are seeing deeper changes in Australian politics? We have now gone for a decade and the evidence is that it's very hard for a first-term government to it be re-elected. The electorate seems to be more impatient and more critical. Do you think that's right?

I do, and there are a lot of reasons for that. I think one of the drivers of this is the increasing velocity of events. Another is the trivialisation of political communication through Twitter and things like that. There are a lot of phenomena that sociologists and political scientists will no doubt write about, but I do think that the velocity of events, the increasing accelerating velocity of events and the trivialisation of political discourse have a lot to do with it.

Take a bow, Aussie twerps.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Liberals behaving badly and being found out right to the bitter end of campaign

The Liberal Party of Australia has been caught lying to Twitter in an attempt to manipulate mention of its campaign in the Higgins electorate on that particular social media platform. Polling earlier in June 2016 suggested Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer is in danger of losing her seat.

Social media giant Twitter has launched an investigation into the Liberal Party after it faked a copyright claim to try and shut down a joke account that likened embattled assistant treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer to Sophie Mirabella.

Last week Fairfax Media reported that Ms O'Dwyer had taken the extraordinary step of forcing Twitter to dismantle the joke account @Kelly_dnuSophie, which compared her election campaign in Higgins to the disastrous 2013 loss of Indi by her friend and fellow Liberal Sophie Mirabella.

The joke account had barely more than 200 followers at the time – "a significant proportion of whom are pornbots" said one of the students who started it – but the public comparisons to Ms Mirabella's failed campaign seemingly irked Ms O'Dwyer.

As the "is Kelly the new Sophie" comparisons gained traction, an official complaint was lodged by Jennifer Freind (sic), who is described as the "social media advisor to the Victorian Liberal Party".  She issued a "Digital Millennium Copyright Act (USA) takedown notice", claiming the copyright to photographs used by the account was owned by Kelly O'Dwyer.

Twitter locked the account in response, however, most of the photographs on the site appear to be under copyright not to Ms O'Dwyer, but to Fairfax Media.

Twitter's latest determination of "Case #34662656" isn't good news for Liberal Party of Victoria or Ms O'Dwyer.

"Upon further review of the DMCA notice  . . we have determined that the notice is invalid," states the social media giant.  "The content has been restored and [the] account has not been penalised."

Twitter has also issued a please explain to the Liberal Party of Victoria, and wants to know why it faked a copyright claim over the photos in order to shut down the account. 

"We have requested additional information from the reporting party," read a statement from Twitter.

As part of the original complaint, Jennifer Freind [sic] had signed a statement declaring that "Kelly O'Dwyer" owned the copyright to the photos, and  "the information in this notification is accurate, and I state under penalty of perjury that I am authorised to act on behalf of the copyright owner"……

One senior Victorian Liberal told Fairfax Media there were real fears Higgins could be "the Indi of 2016", a reference to Sophie Mirabella's shock loss of the safe Liberal seat of Indi to independent Cathy McGowan at the 2013 federal election…..

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Cash and Nash think twice

Australian Minister for Employment and Minister for Women, Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash took down this retweet on Saturday 14 May 2016:

As did the Minister for Rural Health and Minister for Regional Development Nationals Senator Fiona Nash on the same day:

Even Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals MP for New England Barnaby Joyce thought twice about what was being retweeted and deleted it after half a minute.

So what were the official Liberal Party and @MathiasCormann tweets that caused these three politicians to disappear their approval?

Why it was the same one - this one:

For Cash,Nash and Joyce it was a clear case of Don’t mention the plan!

* All tweets found at Politwoops

Sunday, 10 January 2016

ISIS called and heard this response: sorry, I have a life

Sky News reporting on ISIS response to increased air strikes, 27 December 2915:

The Islamic State group has released a new message purportedly from its reclusive leader, claiming his self-styled "caliphate" is doing well despite an unprecedented alliance against it.
In the 24-minute audio posted on Saturday, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says air strikes by the international coalition only increase his group's determination and resolve.
He also mocks a recently announced Saudi-led Islamic alliance against "terrorism" and warns Israel that "we are getting closer to you" every day.
To Israeli Jews, he says that they "will hide behind trees and stones" from the IS.
Al-Baghdadi urges Muslims world over to join the fight, saying it is their Islamic duty to rise up everywhere.
The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed but it was posted on IS-affiliated websites and Twitter as have past IS messages.

A selection of Twitter responses to this call to “rise up”:

Monday, 26 January 2015

"White. WHITE. white." *WARNING: offensive language & racist comment*


It’s the 2015 Australia Day long weekend and the Aussie arm of the twitterverse has been discussing everything from patriotic cake decorations and barbeques through to invasion, colonial occupation and race-based discrimination.

All is as expected. Some tweets are happy, some sad. Others are hurt, angry or defensive. Many more are insightful, balanced and supportive of other people’s views.

At some time over the last two days I began to realise that my Twitter timeline was showing signs of a savage argument developing somewhere else and, that a number of people living in Australia were having their racial and/or cultural identity questioned in some manner.

I peeked at this ongoing argument. Big mistake. I fell into a sewer.

The main focus seemed to be the fact that a well-known young Aboriginal woman was erroneously having her identity questioned because the colour of her skin, hair and eyes were judged to be too light for her to be recognised as indigenous. Shades of journalist Andrew Bolt!

However, I was surprised at both the degree of vitriol spewed across the Internet and the places it originated.

Along the way, other Australians were gratuitously insulted as well.

In no particular order here are just some of the comments made by those seeking to denigrate the Australian indigenous experience (click on any of the images to enlarge):

And the vileness spread far and wide:

This attack went on and on and on. Leaving a bad taste in the mouth and a tarnished holiday weekend in its wake.

@ebswearspink, @upjulie and @StringStory didn’t deserve the hate sent their way.


In which two individuals (one with a doctorate) apparently decide to mistake an adjective describing an argument for a noun allegedly indicating a person(s) in an effort to justify their tweets:

To make matters clear to those doubters, deniers and downright abusive tweeters, this is a brief snapshot of Ebs background:

Descended from Kamilaroi and Dharug peoples of New South Wales;
Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) Australian Indigenous Law;
Graduate Diploma Legal Practice;
Admitted to the bar by the Legal Profession Admission Board (LPAB) of the Supreme Court of NSW;
Represented traditional owners in NSW Native Title applications;
National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples inaugural delegate.

I am confident that Ebs achieved this because she was both embraced and accepted by the Aboriginal community and loved by her large extended family.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

A somewhat prophetic blast from the past

In which journalist Latika Bourke slaps down then Opposition Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and now Federal Minister for Maligning All Asylum Seekers Arriving By Boat, Scott Morrison, and suggests we all note his answer.....