Bots in the Twittersphere

Bots in the Twittersphere: An estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts – not human beings. Pew Research Center.  Stefan Wojcik et al. April 9, 2018

 The role of so-called social media “bots” – automated accounts capable of posting content or interacting with other users with no direct human involvement – has been the subject of much scrutiny and attention in recent years. These accounts can play a valuable part in the social media ecosystem by answering questions about a variety of topics in real time or providing automated updates about news stories or events. At the same time, they can also be used to attempt to alter perceptions of political discourse on social media, spread misinformation, or manipulate online rating and review systems. As social media has attained an increasingly prominent position in the overall news and information environment, bots have been swept up in the broader debate over Americans’ changing news habits, the tenor of online discourse and the prevalence of “fake news” online. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 30 pages].

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Social Media Use in 2018

Social Media Use in 2018. Pew Research Center. Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson. March 1, 2018.

 A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives.

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 17 pages].

Democratic Defense against Disinformation

Democratic Defense against Disinformation.  Atlantic Council. Daniel Fried and Alina Polyakova. March 5, 2018.

 “The Russians and other purveyors of disinformation will constantly improve their tactics; our counter-tactics therefore cannot be static,” write Ambassador Daniel Fried and Dr. Alina Polyakova in Democratic Defense Against Disinformation, a new publication by the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. This report is part of the broader transatlantic effort to identify democratic solutions for countering disinformation in the short term and building societal resistance to it in the long term. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 32 pages].

Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down

Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down. Center for Strategic & International Studies. James Andrew Lewis. February 21, 2018

 The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in partnership with McAfee, present Economic Impact of Cybercrime – No Slowing Down, a global report that focuses on the significant impact that cybercrime has on economies worldwide. The report concludes that close to $600 billion, nearly one percent of global GDP, is lost to cybercrime each year, which is up from a 2014 study that put global losses at about $445 billion. The report attributes the growth over three years to cybercriminals quickly adopting new technologies and the ease of cybercrime growing as actors leverage black markets and digital currencies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 28 pages].

Blockchains Will Change the Way the World Votes

Blockchains Will Change the Way the World Votes. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Phillip Meylan, Daniel F. Runde. January 26, 2018

 Amid the clamor around bitcoin’s ascendant (now descendant) value, the potential of a far greater contributor to society has been clouded. Bitcoin—which has in recent months been both the godsend and the bane of speculative investors around the world—is made possible by its underlying blockchain technology. Lauded as a technological innovation on the same magnitude as the internet, blockchains at their simplest are diffuse electronic ledgers that garner efficiency, transparency, and remarkable security through a decentralized structure. You don’t have to understand everything about the underlying technology to see how such a system could have a significant impact on our lives.

Blockchains are now being adopted globally for things as diverse as smart contracts, property rights, health care, and humanitarian assistance. But, blockchains also have enormous potential to revolutionize the way elections are conducted. If implemented correctly, such systems could mobilize new electorates, increase voter participation, reduce election violence, and make elections more secure and reliable than ever before. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver

Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver. Pew Research Center.  Amy Mitchell et al. January 11, 2018.

 Publics around the world overwhelmingly agree that the news media should be unbiased in their coverage of political issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 38 countries. Yet, when asked how their news media are doing on reporting different political issues fairly, people are far more mixed in their sentiments, with many saying their media do not deliver. And, in many countries, there are sharp political differences in views of the media – with the largest gap among Americans. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 55 pages, 2.26 MB].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy. December 20, 2017

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. 

 [PDF format, 28 pages].