In a day and age where social media seems to rule the world for the average Joe, freedom of speech reigns. This easy access to the opinions of people may and may not be beneficial to everyone. While truth finds a speedy form of passage around the world in record time, so do lies and disinformation.
Fake news is so often deceptively packaged to look professional and authentic. So much so, in fact, that it becomes so difficult to discern what information is indeed true and what is not. It is not uncommon for antagonists to deceitfully mar the reputation of fine establishments, technologies, and individuals in the name of spite or a good laugh. What’s more, is that social media platforms do not seem adequately equipped to root out these issues. Often posts have to be reported first before any action is taken against individuals. Even then, some of the support agents might not be adequately geared to discern the deceit.
Cybersecurity experts warn that disinformation is a growing menace and not one that looks like it will go away anytime soon. They have stated that the battle is only set to ramp up in 2020. As such, many campaigns have been orchestrated in order to right the wrongs of deceptive punters. A clear example of such a campaign was launched by Russian agents during the presidential campaign in 2016.
The problem, however, extends over many industries worldwide. One of the clearest targets of these attacks has been forged against cryptocurrency. It has been an easy target, as a majority of the public are uneducated on the principles of blockchain technology. It makes them easy cannon fodder for lies. Simply sign up with one of the social media platform leaders and it won’t be long before you are spammed with troublesome Bitcoin ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Though Bitcoin has been known to provide notable profits for investors, some of the adverts deceive the public on how you can supposedly make money on these networks.
MISINFORMATION VS DISINFORMATION
We need to be clear here, misinformation is a result of misunderstood information regarding a specific matter. This information is then passed on erroneously because of ignorance. Though misinformation can be damaging, it does not hold the malicious character traits of disinformation. Disinformation is a willful and knowledgeable twisting of truth or provision of lies on a topic. It is a deceitful way of discrediting truth or using it to serve your own purpose. It is a scourge on society that must be stopped.
Thankfully, the end of disinformation may be in sight for certain platforms, as cyber-scientists launch probes into eradicating it with the use of useful algorithms. They focussed particularly on the subject of cryptocurrency as a testing ground to perfect the technology.
Tracking disinformation is a science fraught with challenges because perpetrators tend to blend in with the rest of the crowd far too easily. This is especially true when it comes to broad topics, such as politics.
Instead, it’s far easier experimenting on well-defined platforms on specific networks. Scientists of the Pacific North West Laboratory have focussed on cryptocurrency discussion platforms on Reddit, as a base to test their technology on. They have mapped the trends of discussions on the topic and how it correlates to the ebb and flow of market behaviour. This provides a handy insight into what sparks trends in the market, as well as educating authorities into how disinformation goes viral.
Scientists: Svetlana Volkova, Maria Glenski, and Emily Saldanha conducted an analysis of tens of thousands of Reddit comments for three of the most popularly talked about cryptocurrencies between 2015 and 2018, namely: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero.
Protocols were installed to monitor various factors on the discussion threads. These included:
How much volume was generated on each topic
How many people participated in posts
How involved was each participant
The outcome varied significantly:
Bitcoin: The most activity was generated around Bitcoin, which also saw the quickest comment response times. An average of 3,600 comments were posted per day.
Etherium: Discussions around Etherium had the largest lifetime of the comments and averaged 500 comments per day.
Monero: Monero only averaged 380 comments per day, but sported the largest median lifetime of the three coins. Monero comments were also far more likely to prompt responses from commentators than its competition.
The study of social signals is very useful towards formulating methods of deciphering how disinformation is spread and what types of social-media characters are most likely to be the instigators in this.
The intention is to build predictive models that hit on causal relationships between different variables so that they can explain the model decision making processes. Systems have been devised to extract social signals from the public when posting on Reddit and other social media platforms. All of this data is combined and able to help with the end product.
WHEN WILL A DIFFERRENCE BE SEEN?
Volkova has claimed that while they have models in hand that can now detect disinformation and educate an audience on how disinformation is spread, the difference will only be made when social media platforms are willing to collaborate with these protocols.
THE EFFECT ON BITCOIN
Disinformation has the ability to create a very bad taste in the mouth of consumers who are deceived through falsehood about the cryptocurrency. Predators that use the brand to pull the wool over the eyes of the public do great damage to the market. An unchecked lie remains a possible truth until it is corrected.
Hopefully, social media companies will get on board with rooting out disinformation in order to save the reputations of so many. This noble cause might then have a positive effect on markets around cryptocurrency, as only truth can keep them prevailing.
Education is vital to growth in the Bitcoin market, but it’s the correct information that is needed, not falsehood. The Bitcoin community will surely welcome disinformation algorithms across platforms, as Bitcoin punters are commonly fighting the effects thereof at the moment. Growth in the market can only lead to an increase in market share for Bitcoin business.
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