Chucking Trump etc off Twitter after Jan 6 provides key data for misinfo experiment

This study is bad, so so bad. The worst study ever. Did you know Hillary Clinton created ISIS?

After convicted criminal and twice impeached former president Donald Trump and 70,000 other accounts were booted from Twitter following the January 6 riots, the spread of misleading information on the platform fell.

Perhaps it is common sense, but the finding is backed by a peer-reviewed paper published in the scientific journal Nature this week.

The study led by David Lazer, professor of political science and computer and information science at Northeastern University in the US, shows that the sudden decision to deplatform 70,000 misinformation traffickers in response to the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 "reduced circulation of misinformation by the deplatformed users as well as by those who followed the deplatformed users."

With social media increasingly consuming people's attention at the expense of conventional media such as newspapers, radio, and television, its impact on political discourse is under the spotlight.

Lazer and team looked at a panel of 599,686 US-based users of Twitter — now known as X — who posted at least one URL during the 2020 election and found that about 1,361 (or 0.25 percent) of them were deplatformed between January 8 and 12. However, this tiny proportion of users were found to be responsible for 4.35 percent of content on Twitter and 24.13 percent of all the misinformation shared amongst the panel. Meanwhile, 26.4 percent of the users on the panel followed one of the removed accounts.

After the accounts were taken off Twitter, researchers found an average daily reduction of 103 tweets associated with misinformation URLs when analyzing posts between June 2020 and January 2021. Users who followed the banned accounts were likely to share less misinformation to other users after the misinformation accounts were removed, the study revealed.

The researchers noted that social media platforms publish content moderation guidelines curtailing the publication of misinformation.

"However, content suppression results in difficult business decisions for tech companies. It is well-established that social media users post a considerable volume of misinformation, and that political content is more engaging and extreme content perhaps especially so. Because of these engagement patterns, curation policies that optimize engagement metrics may promote content that fosters polarization, divisiveness and extremism, and tech companies often find themselves under intense political pressure to limit the extent to which their platforms undermine democracy and the public interest," the paper said.

The researchers were clear that the paper does not prove that the deplatforming of the accounts had a causal impact on misinformation. "There is no way for us to fully separate the effect of the insurrection and other real-world political events from Twitter's enforcement," the study added.

However, it also says that many "misinformation super-sharers" and traffickers in content from QAnon — a far-right conspiracy theory group born on the 4chan forums whose beliefs include Pizzagate, deep state geopolitical conspiracy claims and more — chose to leave Twitter after it toughened its enforcement of rules. That trend could also account for some of the reduction in harmful content, the study said.

"Twitter (now X) is now owned by X Corp and ultimately by Elon Musk, under whose ownership content moderation has been vastly scaled back. Irrespective of the future of X as a platform, we can be sure that social media platforms will continue to have a key role in civic discourse," the researchers said. ®


Yep, Trumpster actually said that about Clinton.

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