Skip down to main content

Twitter has a serious bot problem, and Wikipedia might have the solution

Published on
24 Oct 2017

Project researcher Robert Gorwa wrote a new commentary essay for Quartz on Twitter’s bot policy.
Several research projects, including the Computational Propaganda Project at the Oxford Internet Institute (where I am a researcher), the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab, and the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University have begun to document the central role of bot accounts in spreading hyper-partisan and misleading “news,” perpetrating various hoaxes, and generally being a nuisance, especially in the run-up to elections and other important political events.

The reality is that Twitter is fighting a losing battle, and it is unwilling to deal with the possibility that state actors are using the platform for large-scale political interference. As senator Mark Warner recently put it, Twitter’s congressional testimony “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is.”

So what should Twitter do?

A big step would be for it to clamp down on third-party applications and tweak the API to make automation much more difficult. It could require approval for new apps before they’re deployed. On Wikipedia, for example, bots have to identify themselves and adhere to a straightforward bot policy.

Read the full article here.