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article imageTwitter has a new tool to track climate science disinformation

By Karen Graham     Sep 16, 2019 in Internet
Bot Sentinel has become a tool for those trying to fight the spread of disinformation on Twitter. The platform uses an algorithm to identify accounts it labels as "trollbots."
While CNN's seven-hour climate change town hall for presidential candidates was not a TV ratings bonanza, it did set off a marked surge of activity on Twitter aimed at ridiculing the Democrats and dismissing climate science.
"Climate change" became the top two-word trending topic on Twitter - right up there with the phrase that sits almost constantly at the top of the trending list for accounts on Bot Sentinel's watchlist: "President Trump."
Then, there is British businessman Aaron Banks, Trump ally, and Brexit bankroller, who lead the charge against young climate activist Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teen who inspired the school climate strikes movement. Banks was just one of a number of trolls spreading disinformation.
A large subsection of the comments against Thunberg appearing on Twitter are driven by an established network of radical free-marketeer lobby groups — a network that has firm ties to the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science denial, according to DeSmog.
A new analysis of Twitter data showed the Russian disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 US elect...
A new analysis of Twitter data showed the Russian disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 US election was more extensive and professional than had been previously believed
LOIC VENANCE, AFP/File
Attacking the science behind climate change
Thousands of environmental activists and politicians are descending on New York City in the coming days for rallies and a major summit. And already, scientists, activists, and politicians who are engaged in climate policy are being besieged by a surge of online attacks.
It is difficult to determine if these "climate change"-related Twitter attacks are "spontaneous," or part of a well-organized effort, although some experts believe a small number of influencers are touching off postings by a far larger number of followers.
You could say all the disinformation and climate science denial started in earnest with the Trump 2016 election campaign.
The whole world knows how the U.S. election in 2016 was manipulated using social media. So it is a given that with growing public support for climate action, we can expect campaigns manipulating opinions on climate change and the science behind it to increase.
"I believe this is a concerted effort, likely by bad state actors and fossil fuel interests, to create disinformation, discord, and division as we approach the all-important UN Summit and children's youth event later this month," said climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, a frequent target of attacks, reports Inside Climate News.
Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts used in an Iran-based social media campaign aimed at sway...
Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts used in an Iran-based social media campaign aimed at swaying public opinion
NICOLAS ASFOURI, Lionel BONAVENTURE, AFP
Tracking 'Trollbot' Attacks
The Bot Sentinel platform uses an algorithm to identify accounts it labels as "trollbots"—those that frequently retweet known propaganda accounts, exhibit repetitive behavior or violate Twitter's terms of service by harassing other users. For 24 hours after the CNN climate forum, there were 700 mentions of climate change in the over 100,000 accounts Bot Sentinel tracks.
Christopher Bouzy, founder of the year-old Bot Sentinel platform said that when "climate change" is trending among trollbots, there is likely some amount of coordination. "What we are noticing is these phrases are more than likely being pushed by accounts that have an agenda," Bouzy said.
Bouzy cited the 2016 election campaign for where he got the idea for Bot Sentinel after seeing the impact it made on social media. "There are coordinated campaigns being run every single day. It's pretty much open season on these platforms," Bouzy said. "We're just trying to give people a heads-up that this is happening—this is a narrative that's being pushed right now. You may want to be careful."
More about climate science, UN Climate summit, twitter followers, trollbots, Disinformation
 
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