Monday, 5 June 2017

New Evidence on Jimmy as Robot, will it matter?

First the new development from my Twitter research. Ben Nimmo has posted some stats on posts by Big Mouth Jimmy which appear to be supporting the view that there may be a robot involved. Mostly retweets, over a thousand in one day. There is a link to an article about fake news suggesting that it is fake accounts that spread it.

Ben Nimmo is an expert source for a story in the Daily Telegraph last Friday headlined "Fake web accounts boosting Labour vote" . The story is also based on research by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Jimmy now has a pinned tweet to deny being a robot. Personally I believe this as the selection of tweets is so various. There may be more than one person involved but if it is a robot it is effective enough to convince me as a response to news from a Labour point of view. The main issue is the content, the topics in the election. One was a retweet about a Mail on Sunday poll from @faisalislam . Not "fake news" , just news that suits a certain audience.

Monica Kaminska , co-author of the Oxford research that apparently found 21,661 Labour supporting tweets from automated accounts, is quoted as saying "It is worrying...megaphoning marginal viewpoints...because young people are turning towards social media as their primary news source".  I have shortened this from the print version as I cannot get to the full version online. The research can be found at this page, with a link to a full PDF. I copy out this bit as a summary-

(1) Content about the Labour Party tended to dominate traffic on Twitter.
(2) Automated accounts generated a relatively small amount of content about UK politics

So this could just result in a story that Labour is well supported on social media and that bots are not much of a factor in this situation. Advertising budgets could be more of an influence in the general consequence, including edits of TV interviews.

There has been a tweet around this that mentions "the newspapers own interpretation" but without much explanation. Oxford University may be concerned how research is reported. There may be other comment.

Phil Howard ( @pnhoward ) has tweeted
" 1) @Telegraph #fakenews w/ our #fakenews research
   2) false "exclusive" claim

Meant mistakes exclusively theirs?"
This is a bit obscure. If there are mistakes could this be better explained in public?

My guess is that younger people will continue to get more news from social media. The EU referendum was a time when Brexit supporting newspapers seemed to some to be mostly concerned with opinion. This style has continued. More information will appear after the election on which groups actually voted.

Answering the question in the headline, I don't think it matters at all if Jimmy is a robot as long as the job gets done. Seems ok at the moment and I still think there is a person involved. Please check future posts. As a blogger I tend to repeat the same story though sometimes with an item of news.

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