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Remember You’re Being Manipulated on Social Media: 4 Great Reads

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Editor’s note: As we come to the end of the year, Conversation editors look back at 2018 excerpts for them.

A moment in the midst of political turmoil in the past year I realized I had to stop scanning Twitter.

I’m used to catching up with social media trends. But I’m no longer convinced that the tweet I’m reading is an accurate representation of a real human point of view. There are no doubt some – but I have worked with many academics on articles on how social media sites leave users vulnerable to scams and misinformation. Media misuses my information. and let trolls and bots make use of their systems to dictate my thoughts.

I haven’t gone back to Twitter since then. And I don’t use Facebook for anything but pictures of my friends’ babies. and other celebrations Here are some articles I studied that tell me how I should be aware of the secrets of malicious influencers online.

1. Don’t Trust Social Media

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At the start of 2018, I, like many others, people in the united states Worried about last year’s Facebook disclosure of how Facebook data was used to influence voters in the 2016 election, I considered deleting my Facebook account, but as part of the job. I have to be aware of what is happening on the platform. So I took this advice from Dartmouth College social media scholars Denise Anthony and Luke Stark:

“Without complete information about what happens to their personal data when it is collected. We encourage people to start not trusting companies. until they are sure they should believe it.”

since then I spend a lot less time on the site than I used to. Also, I removed some information from my profile. And I’m very limited on link clicks. comment on posts Or even click “Like”. Facebook can also track what I see. But can’t keep track of how I reacted to that. I imagine and hope that means the company has less information about me. and can’t control me

2. Check your own perception.

To understand more about the proliferation of deceptive and misleading online activities. I used a tool created by Filippo Menczer, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia and their colleagues at the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University. “Helping people realize [biases in the brain, society and technologies] and protecting ourselves from outside influences designed to exploit them.”

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The funniest game is “Fakey,” which asks players to identify credible news and sources. which is unreliable They also created Hoaxy, which graphically shows how lies spread across social networks, and Botometer, which estimates whether a particular Twitter account may or may not be a bot.

3. Bots are powerful

Those bots, I learned from MIT professor Tauhid Zaman, can be dangerous, although not many. He analyzes Twitter activity including people and bots. and measure the political opinions of users. Then he found a way to simulate what the human perspective would look like without the bots.

“A small number of active bots can drastically change public opinion,” he said. The key is not the number of Twitter bots, but the number of posts they generate.

4. Engage with real people

All the free time I get from spending less time on social media is put to good use. for socializing and being alone That should make me feel happier, as Georgetown psychologist Kostadin Kushlev found. “Digital socializing doesn’t add up. But in reality, this offsets the psychological benefits of being socially non-digital.”

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I certainly feel the best when I meet face-to-face, and as Kushlev found in his research subjects, Focusing on the people in front of me is more fun than meeting face to face while texting others on their phone.

avoidance of psychological and political manipulation and having more enjoyable time with friends and loved ones personally. Looks like a good plan for 2019 as well.

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