This month: June 2020
What types of COVID-19 conspiracies are populated by Twitter bots?
With people moving out of physical public spaces due to containment measures to tackle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, online platforms become even more prominent tools to understand social discussion. Studying social media can be informative to assess how we are collectively coping with this unprecedented global crisis. However, social media platforms are also populated by bots, automated accounts that can amplify certain topics of discussion at the expense of others. In this paper, a study of 43.3M English tweets about COVID-19 provides early evidence of the use of bots to promote political conspiracies in the United States, in stark contrast with humans who focus on public health concerns.
   
Also this month
The Situation Room icon and its Internet memes: Subversion of the Osama bin Laden raid and fragmentation of iconicity in remix culture
The Situation Room photograph, which shows U.S. President Barack Obama and cabinet members watching the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011, remains the dominant official image of the event. Within hours of its public release, scores of Internet memes of the famous picture offered alternative interpretations of what had taken place in Pakistan during the military mission, often contradicting the president’s positive description of the operation. This qualitative interpretative study argues that many of the memes that proliferated through cyberspace symbolically subverted the bin Laden raid, disrupting and challenging its celebratory framing by the administration. The study highlights potential competition that Internet memes might pose to institutional accounts of the past and to icons themselves, suggesting possible fracturing of iconicity in remix culture..