The author of our cover story, Joshua DuBois, is hosting a Twitter chat (hashtag: #BeyondTheRift) discussing what’s next after the Zimmerman trial for US race relations. We’ll get started around 3:00pm today, and will be retweeting both hosts and readers like you who offer ideas, questions, or thoughts. Hope you can join us!
(Side note: Our friends at Upworthy seem to be hosting a similar chat at the same exact time, so basically open up your Twitter at 3pm and get real with either or both of our chats. Maybe there will be some crossover!)
To recap: the Court struck down sections of the law requiring states that have a history of discrimination to get federal approval to change their election laws— the law’s effect on voter participation can be seen in the chart below, taken from the opinion.
Hey! We’re doing a Twitter chat in five minutes about women & tech. Girls Who Code's Reshma Saujani & Recovers.org’s Caitria O’Neill are co-hosting. To join in, follow the Twitter account @WomenInWorld and the hashtag #wiwchat.
Come join us, Tumblr!
HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY, TWITTER!
Its sort of like blogging and sort of like IM’ing, and sort of like that ancient medium, the telegraph.
Newsweek, April 9, 2007
That it is.
Brian Abelson is a data scientist who is graciously donating his time at NewsBeast Labs before he starts a full-time position as a Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow at the New York Times in February.
For an upcoming project on the gun debate, we’ve been monitoring statements representatives have made on the topic. As President Obama prepared to unveil his proposal for gun control on Wednesday, Michael and I were curious to see the reactions of representatives to the highly publicized announcement and be able to report that in real-time. Given the degree to which breaking news is now reported (and responded to) on social media, we thought it would be useful to build a bot to log officials’ comments on certain issues and present them in real time. Such a tool could be used by news rooms to engage their readers on a continuous basis by aggregating and serving content from members of particular communities or who serve on different committees.
We were inspired by the work of 2013 Mozilla-Knight OpenNews fellows who recently built a prototpe for an app called “if (this) then news,” a news-oriented take on IFTTT – a site for linking triggers from gmail, twitter, dropbox, and other services to actions on the web. Applying this logic to news coverage, the fellows created the shell for a tool that would monitor live data streams, detect important events, and issue notifications. As Vice President Biden took the mic, we started furiously coding up a bot that would follow the twitter accounts of US Representatives and retweet any comment that included “gun”, “assault weapon”, “firearm”, or other relvant keywords. After a couple hours of missteps and headaches, we eventually got @RepsGunTweets up and running. In the last ten days, the bot has logged 307 tweets; two-thirds of which came in the first three days. We’re still analyzing the conversation but one interesting observation is representatives who are not in favor of gun control tend to link to longer explanations of their position on their website instead of tweet a comment.
Under the hood
At its core a retweet bot is a pretty simple tool: Follow a feed, find what matters, and serve it back up under a single account. The harder part is figuring out how to accurately communicate with Twitter’s API. Using tweepy for python we were able to easily access twitter’s numerous methods. All we needed to provide it with were the the consumer key, consumer secret, access token, and access token secret for an application generated on http://dev.twitter.com/apps. The bot follows CSPAN’s member of congress list and applies a regular expression for the desired keywords and retweets any matches.For even more technical info, check out this Github page
This is an illustration of the “Twitter Activity Network” for The New York Times, which allegedly shows a “high number of users participating in long chains of tweeeting and retweeting.”
A Tumblr spokesperson on Twitter’s unfriending.
Lots of hubbub was made these past few weeks over Mitt Romney’s mysterious spike in Twitter followers. Did he buy fakes? Was he cheating? Are his follower numbers misleading? If new site StatusPeople—which looks at an account’s followers to see which are fake, which are inactive, and which are active—is to believed, Barack Obama’s the real offender. 41% of the President’s Twitter followers are fake accounts.
This is pretty disingenuous reporting, to be honest. By calling Obama an “offender,” it’s implying that Obama’s social media team is deliberately creating thousands of fake accounts just to make the president look good, when really it’s more likely that these followers are individual spam accounts latching on to whomsoever is the most popular. Romney’s spike in Twitter followers is probably due to the same phenomenon.
Don’t believe me? Lady Gaga has the most followers on Twitter, and 43% of hers are fake. Justin Bieber is second by a margin of about 2 million followers, and he’s at 31% fake. That’s just Twitter. It has LITERALLY NOTHING to do with politics.
Very true. We put that “If new site StatusPeople is to be believed…” to hedge a bit against such accusations we’re being “disingenuous” here. Just reporting what the numbers say, iz all.