Today’s Must-Read: “How Twitter Is Being Gamed to Feed Misinformation”

Farhad Manjoo in the NYT:

Specifically, Twitter often acts as the small bowel of digital news. It’s where political messaging and disinformation get digested, packaged and widely picked up for mass distribution to cable, Facebook and the rest of the world.

This role for Twitter has seemed to grow more intense during (and since) the 2016 campaign. Twitter now functions as a clubhouse for much of the news. It’s where journalists pick up stories, meet sources, promote their work, criticize competitors’ work and workshop takes. In a more subtle way, Twitter has become a place where many journalists unconsciously build and gut-check a worldview — where they develop a sense of what’s important and merits coverage, and what doesn’t.

This makes Twitter a prime target for manipulators: If you can get something big on Twitter, you’re almost guaranteed coverage everywhere.

“When journalists see a story getting big on Twitter, they consider it a kind of responsibility to cover it, even if the story may be an alternate frame or a conspiracy theory,” said Alice Marwick, who was co-author of a recent report on the mechanics of media manipulation for the Data & Society Research Institute. “That’s because if they don’t, they may get accused of bias.”

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