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New Fake Account Removals Highlight Twitter’s Bot Problem Once Again

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It’s no secret to anyone involved in social media circles that Twitter has a bot problem.

For years, users have complained about the impact of bots and fake accounts on the platform, and while various research reports have pegged Twitter’s fake profile levels at between 5% and 15%, their presence is likely more significant than that, with researchers repeatedly pointing to massive swarms of bot accounts being used for malicious purpose – in particular, to amplify certain political messages, and drown out opposing views through mass retweeting.

Twitter’s bot issue was highlighted once again this week, with the platform confirming that it had removed 20,000 fake accounts linked to the governments of Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Honduras and Indonesia.

Twitter told The Guardian that these accounts “violated company policy and were part of a targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation”.

As per The Guardian:

“Of the accounts removed on Thursday, 8,558 were linked to the Serbian Progressive party (SNS) of Aleksandar Vučić, the president. The accounts had posted more than 43m tweets amplifying positive news coverage of Vučić’s government and attacking his political opponents. Twitter also removed a network of 5,350 accounts linked to the Saudi monarchy operating out of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Together they had tweeted 36.5m times praising the Saudi leadership or criticizing Qatar and Turkish activity in Yemen.”

This is a key, and common use of Twitter bot networks – earlier this year, a network of Twitter bots was found to be spreading misinformation about the Australian bushfire crisis and amplifying anti-climate change conspiracy theories in opposition to established facts. Those behind that campaign were never identified, nor did Twitter officially acknowledge this reported network. But it further adds to the perception that Twitter is still riddled with bot profiles, which can be mobilized, at any time, to amplify chosen messaging.

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And such campaigns can be effective – late last year, a news story about a sick child sleeping on the floor of a Leeds hospital due to bed shortages at the facility went viral after a surge in claims from various Twitter accounts that the image was staged and/or entirely fake. 

And those critical tweets bore some significant similarities.

UK hospital tweets

The hospital had confirmed that there was a bed shortage at the time, and that the story was, in fact, correct. But seemingly, a Twitter bot army had been employed to discredit the report, as part of a broader effort to ramp up support for the Tory party ahead of the UK election.

Those criticisms then spread to Facebook, using the exact same language again, and were even shared by some well-known UK celebrities, causing more people to question the report’s veracity. And while later investigations indicated that this was indeed a coordinated attempt to twist the truth, the damage was largely already done. The seeds of doubt had been sown, and the story had become another political weapon, which may well have influenced many voters in their eventual decision.

Clearly, Twitter bots can be a problem – and it is also worth noting that Twitter has been working to address the issue, with several solutions reportedly in consideration.

In 2018, as part of its attempts to rid its platform of misinformation, Twitter removed more than 70 million fake accounts, dealing a significant blow to fake profile operators. More recently, Twitter’s been working on a new bot labeling system, which would help users better understand which profiles are real people and which are not, while this month, Twitter also announced an update to its Developer API policy which specifically rules that:

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“…developers clearly indicate (in their account bio or profile) if they are operating a bot account, what the account is, and who the person behind it is, so it’s easier for everyone on Twitter to know what’s a bot – and what’s not.”  

So, Twitter now has an official rule in place to call out bots, and eliminate bot networks for those that fail to comply. And this latest bot network discovery shows that it absolutely needs to enforce this, and take action against bots and fake profiles in order to stop mass-manipulation campaigns, and limit their potential influence, especially with respect to political initiatives.

It may well be, too, that the COVID-19 pandemic could play a part in this. Like all platforms, Twitter is working hard to detect and remove coronavirus misinformation, which is a crucial element in the battle against the spread of the virus. People need accurate, timely information and updates, and in its efforts to combat such, maybe Twitter is learning more about the networks behind these campaigns, and how it can refine its systems to better detect them and reduce their impact. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, more than ever, the key role that social platforms now play in providing information to the public, and with that, maybe we’ll see more action taken across the board to eliminate all forms of manipulative behavior, reducing its impacts. 

We can only hope that Twitter is able to take more action on such – because while Twitter doesn’t have as many users as Facebook, it’s still highly influential. Twitter is the real-time news source of choice for many passionate newshounds and community leaders, and they take what they find and share it with their networks everywhere else. As highlighted by the Leeds hospital story, these bot pushes spread, and their influence stretches well beyond Twitter itself.

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Even if you don’t use Twitter, and you don’t feel like such campaigns impact you and your opinions, they likely do, as they eventually trickle through to all corners of the web.

Twitter, of course, has various issues to deal with right now as it works to meet rising demand, while dealing with its own staffing impacts as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns. But in the wake of this, Twitter needs to take more action to address its bot issues.

Banning political ads on the platform is one thing, but banning bot swarms would likely have a much bigger positive impact in the case of tweets.   

Socialmediatoday.com

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]


Is influencer marketing part of your digital marketing strategy for 2022?

With the rise of more creative, more native-aligned platforms and spaces, brands are increasingly relying on influencers to connect with new audiences, while the growing use of AR and other new technologies also necessitates a familiarity with platforms that takes time and knowledge to maximize.

Influencers can be a great avenue in streamlining such process, but you have to know your audience, and what kinds of influencers they’re tuning into, in order to get the most out of your influencer marketing efforts.

To provide some more context on this, the team from SocialPubli has put together this overview of five key influencer marketing trends of note for 2022. And while these notes won’t address all of the info you need, they could help you formulate a better outreach strategy, based on the latest trends and shifts within the creator space.

Check out the full infographic listing below.



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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement

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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement


Twitter has published a new range of industry reports, based on rising trends, in order to provide more context as to the key elements of focus among its userbase in each sector.

The new trend reports, which Twitter’s collectively calling its ‘Birdseye Report’, were compiled by Twitter data partners, including Hootsuite, Meltwater, Sprinklr and more. Each partner took on a specific element of expanded Twitter conversation, giving each discussion and industry dedicated focus, providing in-depth insight into the latest key shifts in the app.

You can download all the Birdseye Reports here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key highlights.

First off, the reports are based on a range of key tweet trends over the past year.

Those trends include:

  • Digital First – Digital Ethics, Cyber Individuality and Metaverse dominated the technology conversation on Twitter
  • The Crypto Craze – “Crypto” mentions on Twitter increased 549% in 2021
  • Future of Sports – Tweets around the metaverse + sports rose 6,024%
  • Bring the Sweets Back – Conversations around nostalgia for sweets, chocolate and candy grew 55% between January and October 2021
  • Mental Health Matters – Monthly “mental health” mentions from 2019 to 2021 on Twitter grew 44.7%

As you can see here, you can select the specific sector report you want to read, all of which are available via email sign-up – though you can select not to have Twitter or the providing company contact you as a result of your interest.

Each report covers the top trends in each sector, based on tweet discussion, which points to rising areas of opportunity and focus for your tweet marketing.

Twitter Birdseye Report

As you can see here, the reports include both broad trend results, like these, highlighting bigger shifts in each sector, as well as more specific tweet engagement shifts, relative to key focus elements.

Twitter Birdseye Report

Those insights could help to shape your marketing approach, while each report also includes a range of more in-depth pointers and data points to help guide your understanding of what the Twitter audiences is most interested in. 

Twitter Birdseye Report

There are also demographic insights: 

Twitter Birdseye Report

As well as summary points for each, helping to ensure marketers can make the most of each report:

Twitter Birdseye Report

There’s a heap of great insight here, and if you’re working in any of the highlighted sectors, and are looking to improve your Twitter approach, it’s definitely worth downloading the data and checking out the findings.

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Even if you’re not looking to improve your Twitter strategy, it’s likely worth getting access to the insights and seeing what people are most interested in for each segment.

You can download all the Twitter Birdseye reports here.





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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok

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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok


Fame at 92: Malawian music legend Giddes Chalamanda has notched up millions of views on TikTok – Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

Jack McBrams

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

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Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

– ‘Dance around the world’ –

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

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Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”



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