The Scamdemic Conspiracy Theory and Twitter’s Failure to Moderate COVID-19 Misinformation

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2022-01-04
Authors
Rossi, Sippo
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During the past few years, social media platforms have been criticized for reacting slowly to users distributing misinformation and potentially dangerous conspiracy theories. Despite policies that have been introduced to specifically curb such content, this paper demonstrates how conspiracy theorists have thrived on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to push vaccine and health related misinformation without getting banned. We examine a dataset of approximately 8200 tweets and 8500 Twitter users participating in discussions around the conspiracy term Scamdemic. Furthermore, a subset of active and influential accounts was identified and inspected more closely and followed for a two-month period. The findings suggest that while bots are a lesser evil than expected, a failure to moderate the non-bot accounts that spread harmful content is the primary problem, as only 12.7% of these malicious accounts were suspended even after having frequently violated Twitter’s policies using easily identifiable conspiracy terminology.
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Adversarial Coordination in Collaboration and Social Media Systems, covid-19, misinformation, network analysis, twitter
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10 pages
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Proceedings of the 55th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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