Do you know who’s behind that Twitter account tweeting about the coronavirus? Is it a human or bot?
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” is an old meme about the anonymity of the internet that was first published by The New Yorker in the early 90’s. This meme about anonymity remains true on Twitter today, where much of the time, you don’t know who might be behind an account. Despite this and other challenges, Twitter remains one of the best place for breaking news and to find out “What’s happening?” right now.
Our COVID-19 BotsWatch Dashboard is a data visualization tool designed to help users, journalists, and researchers to monitor the health of coronavirus discussions on Twitter. It analyzes publicly available data from Twitter to spot misinformation aka ‘fake news’ and the use of automation a.k.a. “bots”. It also tracks and categorizes URLs shared by Twitter users with keywords “Coronavirus” or “COVID”. Information in this dashboard is based on a sample of English tweets (up to 40%) from the selected time period, as provided by Twitter’s Steaming API.
What questions can you answer with the COVID-19 BotsWatch Dashboard?
What percentage of recent “Coronavirus” or “COVID…” tweets/accounts have been deleted or hidden by either Twitter or the account owner?
The ‘Tweets/Accounts Now Deleted or Hidden‘ chart shows an estimate of the percentage of tweets that are now either: deleted by the user, hidden/protected by the user, or is no longer visible/accessible because the user’s account have been suspended by Twitter.
This chart also shows an estimate of the percentage of accounts that are now either: hidden/protected by the user or is no longer visible/accessible because the user’s account have been suspended by Twitter. You can use this chart to get a sense of the proportion of tweets and accounts that were subsequently deleted/hidden either by: the user (due to self-censoring? Typos? Errors?, etc…) or Twitter (due to a violation of their Terms of Service?).
What types of links are being shared by accounts tweeting about the coronavirus or COVID-19?
The ‘Credible Information or Misinformation?’ chart shows the breakdown of URLs shared by Twitter users with keywords “Coronavirus” or “COVID”. URLs are automatically categorized upon collection based on an expert-curated Links & Misinformation Database. To see a full list of categories and their definitions, click here.
You can use this chart to see what types of links Twitter users are sharing when they tweet about the virus. To see the all links that went into this stacked chart,
- click on the icon in the chart,
- click on the + sign next to any of the available categories (mainstream media, partisan sites, social media, etc…) to see all links that have been grouped into that category.
Is that Twitter Account Human or Bot? You Decide.
These last three charts show the Top 50 Most Frequently Mentioned Users, 50 Most Active Users and the 50 Most Active Users (Automated) that are tweeting about the coronavirus.
You can use these charts to see whether any of the accounts highlighted might be a bot or are using some degree of automation. Click on any of the bars in the last three charts to explore and decide for yourself.
Ryerson University Social Media Lab’s BotsWatch Dashboard
Click on the image below to launch the dashboard in a new window.