new(ish) publication: inauthentic accounts on teacher Twitter
This article has been available online for nearly two years, but since I don’t have any previous posts about it, I’m happy to announce that a study of mine with Dan Krutka has just been assigned to an issue at the Journal of Research on Technology in Education. A number of years ago, Twitter released some large datasets of tweets associated with accounts created as part of various governments’ information operation efforts. Neither misinformation nor information operations are a specialty of mine, but I was interested in seeing if these datasets overlapped with work that I was involved in. So, one day, I downloaded the datasets, loaded them all into R, and searched for some terms germane to my research. That’s how, a couple of years ago, I produced a paper on government-sponsored accounts’ invocations of Mormonism as part of efforts to sow discord in the United States.
It’s also how Dan and I ended up writing this paper! Dan provided some helpful theoretical perspectives that helped flesh the paper out, and the study as a whole is helpful for problematizing some of the enthusiasm that we—and others—had brought to previous research on teachers’ use of Twitter and other social media platforms. Here’s the abstract to give you more of a peek into what we were up to:
There is an abundance of scholarship documenting educators’ uses of for-profit social media platforms for professional learning, but little is known about how inauthentic accounts affect those experiences. We studied 83 state-sponsored accounts’ interactions with the teacher-focused #Edchat hashtag by analyzing their profiles, profiles of accounts they retweeted, and tweets they shared. We found no patterns of overt state interference in #Edchat; however, state-sponsored accounts amplified other inauthentic accounts, such as those focused on commercial, spam, and self-promoting #Edchat messages. Most state accounts used formulaic methods to create relatable account profiles that may go unnoticed by educators using the hashtag. These findings raise questions for educators and researchers about disinformation, anonymity, attention-seeking, and information glut in social media environments polluted by inauthentic amplification.
I’ll eventually work on getting a preprint of the article up for download, but in the meantime, Taylor & Francis has provided me this link, which up to 50 people can use to download a copy of the article.
- Dan Krutka
- digital methods
- Internet Research Agency
- information operations
- online Mormonism
- informal professional development
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