The Manipulation of Twitter - Smarter Every Day 214

  • Published: 08 April 2019
  • 2nd video in a 3 part series on Social Media Manipulation
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    Twitter info on IRA dataset

    Congress released this list of Twitter Usernames:

    Twitter rules (beyond scope of this video, but relevant to current discussions around censorship)

    Academic Papers (At least scroll through and look at the graphs):

    Troll Behaviour in the Twitter Brexit Debate

    Who falls for political manipualation

    Follow YoYoel:
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    Follow NATO Strategic Communication Centre of Excellence :

    Check out "Robotrolling"

    NATO (Our interview took place on NATO's 70th birthday).

    Renée Diresta is a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust, where she researches unintended consequences of algorithms and works towards helping machines make better decisions. Renee also writes about disinformation and the changing face of information war — check out her essay “The Digital Maginot Line” ( — and is a contributor to Wired Ideas (

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    Ambiance and musicy things by: Gordon McGladdery did the outro music the video.
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    Warm Regards,

  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 6 756

  • SmarterEveryDay
    SmarterEveryDay   7 months back

    Our Social Media Platforms are under attack. Twitter is being hit with systematic external attacks in the form of meta-manipulation and inauthentic users who attempt to shape the discussion by slowly and methodically radicalizing people. These attackers have demonstrated the desire to promote tribalism and the "us" vs "them" mentality. I propose proactive unity as a countermeasure.

    It's kind of interesting how crazy typing a sentence like that makes a person sound... but it's absolutely true.

    My twitter accounts are here (open in new tab?):
    For those commenting on Twitter having a political agenda:
    I've read the same articles and listened to the same podcast episodes you have on this subject.... and I've concluded that I seem to take a more nuanced perspective on this than others.

    Whenever I hear about an individual ban/suspension/censorship, the first thing I do is read about the context of the ban. I then divide them into 2 groups.

    *Group 1 Suspensions: Bans based off of Twitter's values and policy decisions. *
    In this case it's clear to me a human actively makes a decision to ban someone, or a specific keyword or phrase etc. I agree that several of their policies (banning certain words, phrases, or "protecting" certain groups but not others) should be discussed and debated openly. In case you're not detecting my stance on this I'll spell it out... I have very strong feelings about these things but I'm avoiding disclosing how I feel in order to shine more light on Group 2 suspensions, which are the result of a far more technical threat. Group 1 Suspensions could be changed tomorrow if certain people change their mind.. Group 2 could not.

    *Group 2 Suspensions. Bans/Suspensions taking place because Twitter is trying to fight literal armies trying to manipulate our society.*
    I'm finding my attention drawn more to this group more because the attackers' intentions here are so malicious. While doing research for this video, I found that the majority of the inauthentic behavior is focused on content meant to align with the right. This make people on the left think "those people on the right" are more radicalized than reality thus making them retreat further left. Those on the right are also in danger of being pushed further right. The "Us" vs "Them" thinking starts immediately. The play here is subtle, and quite frankly, this is a very intelligent way to attack us. *The dataset Twitter released has more right leaning accounts than left.* (Look for yourself, here's a spreadsheet URLs to the WayBack machine for each username in that dataset. The Wayback machine didn't image all pages: ) .One of the interesting problems that Twitter has, is that BECAUSE the majority of the malicious content is built to look like the political viewpoints from one side, they must test their countermeasure algorithms against inauthentic content that also seems to be authentic content on the right. As a result of the target set being unquestionably biased, I would expect disproportionate amount of "collateral damage" flaggings to be on the right.

    Whenever I see someone who has been suspended, I try to be intellectually honest and read their complaints and run it through my engineer filter. If they seem emotional, I try to identify what types of emotions are being communicated and use that to figure out what category the ban fits in.

    Group 1 Bans are usually pretty clear. These bans are usually a process, not a single event. Still, these victims feel that their speech is being controlled (and by definition it is) so they're usually angry.
    Group 2 Bans are often collateral damage, so the sense of injustice is elevated. From what I can tell, Twitter doesn't provide indicate that the suspension was automatic, therefore the user is forced to assume they have crossed some type of ideological barrier and therefore been deemed "not politially correct". The anger in this case usually has a tiny dash of confusion mixed in.

    Twitter usually tries to explain that it's a result of automatic filtering.... but without the context of what's going on in this episode, victims of group 2 bans are left to logically assume a political agenda on the part of twitter. They are assume they are the victim of a Group 1 ban. I do not think this is always the case.

    Heightened emotions lead Group 2 ban victims to tell as many people about the injustices at Twitter, often as loudly as possible. I've noticed when Twitter is notified (as recently happened with the movie "Unplanned" ) the suspension is reversed immediately, followed by a statement by Twitter explaining that the suspension was the result of an autonomous system. To the victim, this explanation is insufficient, and they continue to think Twitter actually wanted to silence them. In the cases I've read, the victims sometime think that because they yelled loud enough the decision was reversed because they publicly shamed Twitter.

    The implications of this are pretty big for Twitter. The result of all this confusion is that the public ends up thinking Twitter's efforts to "control" things are much lager than they actually are. I think it's a good idea for Twitter to be more transparent about this stuff, and Del said they're moving in that direction which is great. For the record, Twitter was 100% open with me and didn't restrict my message in any way.

    Because these issues are related to countermeasures, Twitter's sometimes not at liberty to discuss what exactly triggered their system, because knowledge of such systems could lead to exploitation.
    I'm personally empathetic because I recognize Twitter is fighting a war.

    ......I also think free speech is awesome.

    • CryptoCred
      CryptoCred  3 weeks back

      SWM didn’t go over well with Dell at first. You could see the resentment bleeding from her body language

    • ToIsleOfView
      ToIsleOfView  3 months back

      Dear SmarterEveryDay, Thank you for this series on the engineering of manipulated data. I majored in psychology but realized my need for a degree in mechanical engineering. Engineers think very differently from business and art majors. The psychological effect of manipulated media needs to be understood better than just labeling it "us against them". I say this because the TRUTH REALLY MATTERS and any false information sent out to trick us into a predetermined response is brainwashing! All people who love truth must be against this so it does boil down to the truthers against the liars and us versus them. Deceivers have always been humanities worst enemy. We all have bias and this colors our perception of truth so what is truth when bias manipulates the perception? Catch 22? The influence of authority figures cannot be overstated so we must be suspicious of a any meme using authority as a scientific method to accept truth. The documented historical data must overshadow any use of authority to proclaim the truth of something. Having a good foundation in "historical" truth (consensus) is a key indicator of a persons ability to think critically on any subject and absolutely essential to protect us against brainwashing (manipulation). These social media platforms are bypassing the historical data and putting people in a weakened state of consciousness by using social media, with popularity being the primary authority figure, to create truth. The result is a Politically Correct automaton. All human beings are dangerously susceptible to conditioning and I think this should be more widely warned about.

    • Diann Espinoza
      Diann Espinoza  3 months back

      God bless!

    MR PITTS  18 hours back

    No way they are only tracking behavior for anti-bot measures. It worries me because if they can track scroll behavior and associate with a human versus bot input, who knows what else they can track. They don't want to reveal too much not because of potential of exploitation but because they don't want to tell us how much they invade our privacy.

    • Paul Ferrante
      Paul Ferrante  1 days back


        SASI DHARAN  1 days back

        counter , counter , counter , counter , counter measureeeee !!

        • David Pace
          David Pace  2 days back

          I really appreciate the insights you shared on all three of these videos.
          Fake identities sharing fake NEWS is the cancer of the internet, as you pointed out very well. This topic shouldn't go away, I'd be interested in a follow-up. Anyone else?

          • Space Monkey
            Space Monkey  3 days back

            Loved the video up to the point you started pitching ExpressVPN.

            • Aidan White
              Aidan White  5 days back

              really shreddin braddah

              • Aidan White
                Aidan White  5 days back

                destin great vid man ya mon

                • Aidan White
                  Aidan White  5 days back


                  • Robert Pitcher
                    Robert Pitcher  1 weeks back

                    Thanks for your efforts, great watch 👍

                    • Clarence Wattse
                      Clarence Wattse  1 weeks back

                      You got it on the nose with unity and grace. I think we really need to think about what those terms actually mean. Like grace, as in grace period, you show up 3 minutes late to work, even if it's every single day, it's automatically forgiven. I personally get 5 minute grace period to be late at my job, and for months, I was late every day. I just couldn't pull myself together to get to work on time for the life of me. Aristotle's Poetics, each of the three dramatic principles requiring limitation of the supposed time of a drama to that occupied in acting it or to a single day ( unity of time ), use of one scene throughout ( unity of place ), and concentration on the development of a single plot ( unity of action )

                      • richard kaye
                        richard kaye  1 weeks back

                        The Russians operated the biggest facebook page for black lives matter.

                        This is true.

                        • captain jack
                          captain jack  2 weeks back

                          Is there a way to identify if an account is of real person or operated by bot or an manipulating agency???

                          • EliteVulture
                            EliteVulture  3 weeks back


                            • João Vieira
                              João Vieira  3 weeks back

                              3:53 BR fazendo heueragem kkkkk
                              Fizeram o twitter mudar o algoritmo

                              • Rin Mansor
                                Rin Mansor  3 weeks back

                                Really good investigative journalism! Bravo!

                                • Steve Z
                                  Steve Z  3 weeks back

                                  i believe that you should try some of these tactics to escalate the "team trees" initiative (non profit, nobody gets heart etc). Then document the entire process, let youtube, twitter and facebook review, redact of update there systems before posting to the world so that we can see more on how this kind of manipulation is actually affecting the world.

                                  Go Team Trees!!!

                                  • Benjamin Wheeldon
                                    Benjamin Wheeldon  4 weeks back

                                    Buy the fake behavior and follow the money, and track where it comes from via the data packets.

                                    • 0key vanilya
                                      0key vanilya  1 months back

                                      comment for the algorithm, lol.

                                      • Billy Thekid
                                        Billy Thekid  1 months back

                                        Boost lol

                                        • TheJeremy Shaver
                                          TheJeremy Shaver  1 months back

                                          I am getting smarter every day and every time I watch this video in this series. I got it in my YouTube feed.

                                          • Da Mc-eighty-one
                                            Da Mc-eighty-one  1 months back

                                            Sometimes I fall asleep while scrolling. Idk what links I open while sleeping. I've been thinking about these principals quite a bit recently. Sub since Prince Rupert's drop. Thank you. For all your hard work.

                                            • Dan
                                              Dan  1 months back

                                              You have made the best ad for VPN! and I love this series and hope for the Reddit extension.

                                              • Infinity Fifty
                                                Infinity Fifty  1 months back

                                                why this video have dislikes, this is great video with great explanations

                                                • Bob the Slacker
                                                  Bob the Slacker  1 months back

                                                  Tax Free Religion is ok but, I'm a bot. wack society.

                                                  • Ab Sai
                                                    Ab Sai  1 months back

                                                    I like the way you showed that Twitter icon on that mug by sipping the coffee inside it...

                                                    • ABSeafood Newcastle
                                                      ABSeafood Newcastle  1 months back

                                                      Love the vids mate

                                                      • Darryl Cheese
                                                        Darryl Cheese  1 months back

                                                        🤔 hmm.... interesting.

                                                        • Julie Banker
                                                          Julie Banker  1 months back


                                                          • Yoey Schwab
                                                            Yoey Schwab  2 months back

                                                            generic comment for algorithmic promotion

                                                            • Louis Turner
                                                              Louis Turner  2 months back

                                                              Any body else notice the red and blue coffee cups in his interview. Red is bad, blue is good. Simple manipulation.

                                                              • RE Styles
                                                                RE Styles  2 months back

                                                                Everybody keep calm everything‘s under control.

                                                                • Lucurous
                                                                  Lucurous  2 months back

                                                                  Only 630k views by now?. It's such a sad reality we are facing right now.

                                                                  • Aeroxima
                                                                    Aeroxima  2 months back

                                                                    Yes people should give more benefit of doubt, but also don't trust that everything is as it seems.

                                                                    You're probably already believing a lot of lies, let's try to minimize that, not embrace it.

                                                                    • Jo Ri
                                                                      Jo Ri  2 months back

                                                                      What's the title of the mentioned podcast?

                                                                      • Turtle Von Nurtle
                                                                        Turtle Von Nurtle  2 months back

                                                                        Biebers from Brazil.

                                                                        • jd123 456
                                                                          jd123 456  2 months back

                                                                          I consider myself a scholar of life in general and behavioral cues. I wish I was capable of supporting you financially through any of the platforms you use. Unfortunately I'm not able to the moment.

                                                                          I'm curious about your overall behavior @ the Twitter location. You were not comfortable or not yourself. Did they sit you down in a room of lawyers and scare you prior to filming? The first woman you interviewed was constantly interrupting you and it seemed as if you were holding back a lot of things that you felt needed to be said. Whatever it was, you appeared very uncomfortable. Can you help me understand that situation a little better.

                                                                          If not, no worries. It's 100% possible I was seeing something that wasn't actually there. It never hurts to ask, after all I'm asking in hopes of getting smarter every day. Lol.

                                                                          Love what you do sir. 1 person @ a time is all its going to take. Eventually society will improve.

                                                                          Thanks for all that you do for human kind.

                                                                          John d.

                                                                          • ShawN shawN
                                                                            ShawN shawN  2 months back

                                                                            thanks for the video. This really helped to figure out why i was blocked 2x on my twitter account.

                                                                            • AColdPiece
                                                                              AColdPiece  2 months back

                                                                              Ok, sorry. I liked the first part but this one is kind of aggravating. You keep doing the, "see I knew it" move. Like you're trying to prove to us that you're as smart as they are. Cool, you're smart bro, but let them answer.

                                                                              • Muru Roa
                                                                                Muru Roa  2 months back

                                                                                Alternative thought: we don't actually need Twitter.

                                                                                • Alan Gore
                                                                                  Alan Gore  2 months back

                                                                                  Brilliant work . . .as always!

                                                                                  • Peter Hares
                                                                                    Peter Hares  2 months back


                                                                                    • John Lee Y
                                                                                      John Lee Y  2 months back

                                                                                      this has to be one of the most effective promo videos i’ve come across 😂 but that aside, thank you so much for all the work you’ve put into gathering the information for the many of us and for constantly putting out actually quality stuff and educating every one of us to be, smarter every day. just thank you!

                                                                                      • paul morneault
                                                                                        paul morneault  2 months back

                                                                                        Thank you for pointing out the "nudge" at 18:52. The devisive us verses "them" prospective. Most excellent. I'm subscribing. :)

                                                                                        • Johannes Leuschner
                                                                                          Johannes Leuschner  2 months back

                                                                                          Where can I find the document shown @10:35? Couldn't find it in the links. Thx

                                                                                          • kenny noll
                                                                                            kenny noll  2 months back


                                                                                            • Rufaro Kembo
                                                                                              Rufaro Kembo  2 months back

                                                                                              This series about the most interesting news I've ever watched.

                                                                                              Smarter everyday(Destin)❤... a real role model and inspiration for me

                                                                                              • Disabled Drifter
                                                                                                Disabled Drifter  2 months back

                                                                                                Thanks so much for all you have done to help people get smarter every day.