Research paper discusses how political operatives manipulate ‘the Twitter’

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Rick Hasen flags a very interesting research paper which describes “how political operatives set up fake accounts to spread rumors or false statements about candidates.”

This “astrotweeting” is done in a way “to make it appear as though the information is coming from numerous sources, to convey the impression that the information is reliable.”

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Online social media are complementing and in some cases replacing person-to-person social interaction and redefining the diffusion of information. In particular, microblogs have become crucial grounds on which public relations, marketing, and political battles are fought. We introduce an extensible framework that will enable the real-time analysis of meme diffusion in social media by mining, visualizing, mapping, classifying, and modeling massive streams of public microblogging events. We describe a Web service that
leverages this framework to track political memes in Twitter and help detect astroturfing, smear campaigns, and other misinformation in the context of U.S. political elections. We present some cases of abusive behaviors uncovered by our service. Finally, we discuss promising preliminary results on the detection of suspicious memes via supervised learning based on features extracted from the topology of the diffusion networks, sentiment analysis, and crowdsourced annotations.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.