Boing Boing 

@Theresamaybot: a twitterbot that puts you under suspicion and won't say why

A bot inspired by UK Home Secretary Theresa May's pledge to bring back the systems of unaccountable mass surveillance that the EU forced the UK to abandon.

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Charting what harassment looks like on Twitter

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While the pervasive problem of harassment on Twitter is far from solved, the social media platform has recently been taking steps towards finding solutions; and thanks to the non-profit group Women, Action and the Media, which partnered with Twitter late last year, we now have an interesting snapshot of what harassment looks like on Twitter, and how Twitter responds to it.

For several weeks last November, WAM participated in a pilot project where they acted as an "authorized reporter" for Twitter. This meant that users could report abusive behavior on the platform to WAM, which would then evaluate and escalate the reports they validated to Twitter. They also planned to "work with Twitter to better understand how gendered harassment functions on their platform, and to improve their responses to it."

Today, WAM released an analysis of the data they received during those three weeks. They also offered recommendations for improving how Twitter responds to harassment, which included developing tools to address "tweet and delete" attacks, adopting a clearer definition of harassment that moves beyond the limited standard of direct threats, and giving all users access to opt-in filtering the currently enjoyed only by verified users.

It also offered information on how Twitter responded to differing types of reported behavior. There was punitive action in 55 percent of cases, and WAM notes that Twitter was most likely to take action again reported hate speech, and the least likely to take action against reports of doxxing:

twitter-harassment

This not a scientific study by any means; the instances of harassment are self-reported, and the sample size is relatively small, with a little over 800 reports. Still, it's an interesting glimpse of what harassment on Twitter looks like, particularly in the absence of more substantive data from Twitter itself.

Read the full report here, and take a look at the accompanying infographic for more.

How a tweet caused Twitter's stock to slump

ROA-twitter

Twitter's stock dropped $8bn in a single day, all thanks to a tweet.

Investors were rattled by the early disclosure of unexpectedly low revenues, exposed before the close of trading by Selerity, a service that scours the web looking for investment information.

"We inadvertently released an early version of [Twitter's] earnings," Nasdaq admitted to the BBC. "We are investigating the root cause."

Normally, the results would be posted after the close of trading to allow for the news to be digested. But the results had been posted—through not yet officially publicized—on an investor relations page operated by the stock exchange.

"Selerity, who provided the initial tweets with our results, informed us that earnings release was available on our Investor Relations site before the close of market," said Twitter executive Krista Bessinger. "Nasdaq hosts and manages our IR website, and we explicitly instructed them not to release our results until after the market close and only upon our specific instructions, which is consistent with prior quarters.

Selerity was quick to disclose the source to douse early suspicions of a hack or insider shenanigans.

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The poor financial results, far short of expectations, gave Twitter its second-worst trading day since it went public in 2013, reported the Wall Street Journal. By the end of the day, the stock price was about $40, down 6 percent.

On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, traders started getting a range of where the stock should open based off of buy and sell orders that were coming in while the stock was halted, said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at brokerage firm Meridian Equity Partners.

“There was a lot of noise and energy,” Corpina said. “Everyone was yelling out their buy and sell orders. Everyone was asking for price indications.”

Trading resumed at 3:47 p.m. ET with the stock at $40.45. Shares closed down 18% to $42.27, the second lowest drop in the company’s short history as a public company.

Twitter is the second big tech firm to be nailed by Selerity's algorithmic newsgathering: in 2011, Microsoft posted results early to a public but unlinked web-page that was quickly exposed by the startup.

The New York Times's Vindu Goel writes that Twitter is particularly vulnerable, because revenues were considered the company's "one bright spot" amid intense competition and other bad news.

Twitter's got a new troll stick

New policies at Twitter for reporting, automatic message muting, and enforcement could turn the noise way down for users subject to harassment.Read the rest

Twitter announces new block tool, ban on threats

ROA-twitter Messages identified as abusive will not appear on notification timelines, thanks to a new filtering system designed to prevent harassment from being seen by its targets.

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This simple comic strip concisely explains the complexities of Twitter drama

Apologies to all who think Twitter is srs bzns. Jokestress out!

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Turkey blocks Twitter and YouTube

_82143543_026568101-1 The BBC reports that the courts want to prevent the spread of photos from last week's deadly siege which ended in the deaths of two terrorists and their hostage.

Woman medicated in a psychiatric ward until she said Obama didn't follow her on Twitter

Kam Brock's car was seized by the NYPD in a bogus drug bust (they found no drugs, seized it anyway) and then they arrested her because she got upset and took her to a mental hospital. She tried to tell the doc that she was a good person, and cited the (true) fact that Obama followed her on Twitter.

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Social graph of mysterious twitterbots


Terence Eden has mined the social graphs of thousands of mysterious, spammy twitterbots, which may or may not be the same larval spambots I wrote about.

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Imaginary ISIS attack on Louisiana and the twitterbots who loved it


Gilad Lotan has spotted some pretty sophisticated fake-news generation, possibly from Russia, and possibly related to my weird, larval twitterbots, aimed at convincing you that ISIS had blown up a Louisiana chemical factory.

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ISIS vs Twitter: A cautionary tale told through data visualization

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A report by the Brookings Institution analyzed a sample 20,000 ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts, and sought to answer the question of how suspending accounts impacts the community. The data visualizations, included in the report, bring the message home. According to the authors, suspensions serve to focus ISIS supporters into a dense cloud: on the lower right of the image above.

The node-link diagram describes ISIS supporters from February 2015. The darker cloud shows the increased concentration of interactions after the suspensions, while the lighter cloud at the top left shows more scattered peripheral relationships at the same time. "As suspensions contract the network, members increasingly talk to each other rather than to outsiders," the report states. The upshot? Suspensions, of which Twitter made more than a thousand by December, may have unintended consequences, including cutting off ISIS supporters from beneficial social pressures on Twitter.

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The report was written by author and analyst J.M. Berger (@intelwire) and data scientist and podcaster Jonathon Morgan (@jonathonmorgan), and commissioned by Google.

What's up with these incredibly prolific twitterbots?


Old, highly-retweeted tweets in which I was @'ed keep getting RT'ed by fake twitterbots whose profile photos, bios and names are randomly composited from other Twitter users; they follow each other and spawn at an alarming rate.

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Nerdcore Net Neutrality rap

Nerdcore rapper Dan Bull recorded this Net Neutrality rap today and crowdsourced an excellent video for it in three hours, with the help of his Twitter friends.

Twitterbot generates North Korean patriotic slogans with Markov chains


The 300 weird patriotic slogans that North Korea released last week had the stilted feel of machine-generated text.

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Tone-deaf Valentines tweets from the NSA

"Roses are red, violets are blue, #NSA loves privacy rights and you." No, seriously.

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Generic YA dystopian novel (Twitter edition)


The @Dystopianya account is tweeting an entire cliched YA dystopian novel in bite-sized chunks.

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Fun with promoted Tweets


Andy Baio's been playing with Twitter's "promoted tweet" targeted ads, sending out tweets that are only seen by Twitter staff (hey, verify me already!), politicians (make better laws!), and, in one bizarre case, no one (a process Twitter calls "nullcasting").