This month: November 2020
Characterizing social media manipulation in the 2020 U.S. presidential election
Democracies are postulated upon the ability to carry out fair elections, free from any form of interference or manipulation. Social media have been reportedly used to distort public opinion nearing election events in the United States and beyond. With over 240 million election-related tweets recorded between 20 June and 9 September 2020, this study charts the landscape of social media manipulation in the context of the upcoming 3 November 2020 U.S. presidential election. Despite being outnumbered by several orders of magnitude, just a few thousands of bots generated spikes of conversations around real-world political events in all comparable with the volume of activity of humans. Bots also exacerbated the consumption of content produced by users with their same political views, worsening the issue of political echo chambers.
   
Also this month
Americans’ willingness to adopt a COVID-19 tracking app: The role of app distributor
The COVID-19 global pandemic led governments, health agencies, and technology companies to work on solutions to minimize the spread of the disease. One such solution concerns contact-tracing apps whose utility is tied to widespread adoption. Using survey data collected a few weeks into lockdown measures in the United States, this paper explores Americans’ willingness to install a COVID-19 tracking app. Specifically, this study evaluates how the distributor of such an app (e.g., government, health-protection agency, technology company) affects people’s willingness to adopt the tool. Sixty-seven percent of respondents were willing to install an app from at least one of eight providers; factors that predict one’s willingness to adopt differed.