Prateek Waghre quoted in TheQuint on ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour’ and Platform Manipulation

Prateek Waghre was quoted in an article by Sonal Gupta on ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour’ and manipulation of public debate. The article was published on 11 September 2020.

Prateek was quoted as saying:

Prateek Waghre, a research analyst at Takshashila Institute opines, “Since these networks run across platforms, there’s is a need to ask platforms to work together. However, academicians like me fear that this could lead to content cartels, where you’re essentially letting them decide what content stays and what doesn’t, making them more powerful than before.”

Echoing Doueck’s thoughts, Waghre says that there’s no transparency in the guidelines of tech giants on how they identify what’s coordinated and inauthentic.

“While the Stanford report points out that the Pakistani accounts had used a browser extension to mass-report other accounts, it’s unclear if that’s the only criteria they employed to identify these accounts,” says Waghre.

Waghre also cites an example of a Twitter trend popular in May, #SaveMaleNursesInIndia, which came about after AIIMS announced its 80 percent female nurses and 20 percent male nurses policy.

“I studied around 20-30,000 tweets using that hashtag, and notice that 66 percent of the accounts had been newly created in May. Now, that is a clear sign of manipulation. However, Twitter saw an increase in accounts in May, so it’s extremely difficult to say whether these accounts came about organically or as a result of coordination.”

If the coordination had happened off platform, for example on WhatsApp, there’s no way Twitter could recognise it as ‘inauthentic’ behaviour, Waghre adds.