Thomas Pendergast Vladeck home

Our discourse is still being poisoned

Today on Twitter I came across a tweet that seemed so heartless, so inhumane, that I had to wonder whether or not the perpetrator, was, in fact… human

For those who don’t know, Patrick Petty is a father of one of the Parkland victims. Unlike most of the people that have emerged and become quite visible out of Parkland, Patrick is conservative and pro Second Amendment.

So, the tweet above is beyond inappropriate. But if you look further, something seems a bit off. If you check out @simonsaysboohoo’s profile, it’s a mélange of emotionally-charged liberal content. It’s… exclusively a mélange of emotionally-charged liberal content. There’s nothing else.

Using the botrnot model developed by Mike Kearney, this account has a very high probability of being a bot (~92%):

Screenshot 2018-03-25 20.23.34

The big problem of course is that a lot of people are going to think that @simonsaysboohoo is a real person, reflective of an “other side” where people actually do think these objectionable and immoral things. And why would they think otherwise? A person is not privy to the summary statistics of user behavior that the model above is using to calculate the probability of bot-hood. We are enormously easy to fool.

So, someone is trying to inject poison into our public debate; but who? and why?

And probably most importantly, why isn’t Twitter (and the same applies to Facebook and Google) doing more to prevent this kind of deception?