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Twitter Shares Insights into How its Election Integrity Measures Impacted Usage and Activity



In the lead-up to the US Election, Twitter announced a range of new measures designed to slow the spread of misinformation and keep people informed, in real-time, of the latest updates.

And now, with the election behind us, Twitter has shared some insights into the actual impact of those efforts, and how they were reflected in user behavior trends. And they certainly show promise in regards to how the platform could tackle similar concerns moving forward – first off, on Twitter’s warning labels on election misinformation, which anyone who’s using Twitter will have seen a lot over the past week.

Twitter election misinformation warning

According to Twitter:

  • Approximately 300,000 Tweets have been labeled, thus far, under its Civic Integrity Policy for content that is disputed and potentially misleading
  • 456 of these Tweets were also covered by a warning message, and had engagement features limited
  • 74% of the people who viewed these Tweets saw them after the warning label was applied
  • Twitter saw a 29% decrease in Quote Tweets of these labeled Tweets 

That’s a significant result – a 29% reduction in amplification of tweets which included misleading information, with Twitter’s rapid response rate also limiting exposure without such warnings. That could go a long way towards slowing the momentum of such claims, simply by alerting people to such before they interact.

Next up was Twitter’s decision to remove the straight re-tweet option for US users in the lead-up to the poll, which pushed people to use quote tweet instead, and add their own thoughts.

Twitter retweet update

Twitter says that this change lead to a 23% decrease in Retweets, and a 26% increase in Quote Tweets – “but on a net basis the overall number of Retweets and Quote Tweets combined decreased by 20%”.

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“In short, this change slowed the spread of misleading information by virtue of an overall reduction in the amount of sharing on the service. We are taking more time to study and fully understand the impact of this change and are leaving it in-place for now.”

So another double-digit reduction in amplification. It’s difficult to quantify the full impact of this, but it does show that by adding in more friction, it clearly makes more Twitter users take more time to consider the content that they’re sharing.

Twitter also removed “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations for accounts that users don’t follow in Home Timelines, and only showed trends which included additional context, with a representative Tweet or article to help people gain an informed understanding of related discussion.

Twitter says that these measures had less impact.

On removing in-feed recommendations, Twitter says that it didn’t observe “a statistically significant difference in misinformation prevalence as a result of this change”, while the parameters around trends did lead to fewer user reports, but also restricted contextual trend matches, as its internal team could only check and verify so many at a time.

From now on, Twitter says that it’s reversing both elements, but that it will be looking to change its approach to in-feed recommendations based on topics you’re interested in, as opposed to what your connections have engaged with.

We believe this will provide you greater control to tell us what you are and aren’t interested in, which will make our recommendations more relevant to you. Also, we don’t believe the “Like” button provides sufficient, thoughtful consideration prior to amplifying Tweets.”

That will mean that, eventually, your Likes on Twitter are no longer random retweets, and will instead be replaced with prompts like this within your tweet feed, based on topics you’ve engaged with.

Tweet recommendation in-stream

As noted, there are some positive signals in here, and pointers as to how Twitter, and other social platforms, could look to limit misinformation by adding in more elements of friction.

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The latter notes on revising account recommendations are also helpful, and overall, it looks as though Twitter has gained a lot from the election process.

You can read Twitter’s full election rundown here.

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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps



Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps

Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.

The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.

It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.

Meta security guide

For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.

Meta security guide

While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.

Meta security guide

There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.

It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.

Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump



Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner

Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.

The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.

He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.

Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.

On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.

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Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.

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Major US TV service dumps pro-Trump channel OAN



Major US TV service dumps pro-Trump channel OAN

Former US president Donald Trump regularly called on Chanel Rion of OAN (pictured April 2020) during his press briefings – Copyright AFP/File STR

Subscription television service DirecTV has decided not to renew its contract with One America News Network (OAN), an ultra-conservative, conspiratorial US channel that backs former US president Donald Trump.

“We informed (OAN owner) Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” a spokesman for DirecTV told AFP Friday.

The deal is due to expire in April, according to a source familiar with the matter.

DirecTV, which is owned by US telecom giant AT&T, did not provide further details for its decision.

OAN is one of the new ultra-conservative players in television news that are trying to nibble away at the market share of Fox News.

Like Newsmax or Real America’s Voice, they refused to recognize Donald Trump’s defeat in the November 2020 presidential election, instead relaying unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about electoral fraud that were propagated by the former president and his supporters.

In mid-November 2020, for instance, OAN presenter Christina Bobb accused the Democratic Party of preparing “a coup” against Trump.

Trump himself invited his supporters to switch to OAN and Newsmax, and more and more leading Republican figures are appearing on the channels.

OAN saw its audiences climb in the wake of the election, but DirecTV’s decision is a serious blow because it is the channel’s largest distributor, according to US media.

OAN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from AFP.

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A year ago, when Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to stop the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, OAN and Newsmax denounced — without any supporting evidence — what they called the infiltration of small groups of ultra-leftists into the crowd of Trump loyalists.

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