#ArsonEmergency and Australia’s “Black Summer”: Polarisation and Misinformation on Social Media

Derek Weber, Mehwish Nasim, Lucia Falzon, Lewis Mitchell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the summer of 2019–2020, while Australia suffered unprecedented bushfires across the country, false narratives regarding arson and limited backburning spread quickly on Twitter, particularly using the hashtag. Misinformation and bot- and troll-like behaviour were detected and reported by social media researchers and the news soon reached mainstream media. This paper examines the communication and behaviour of two polarised online communities before and after news of the misinformation became public knowledge. Specifically, the Supporter community actively engaged with others to spread the hashtag, using a variety of news sources pushing the arson narrative, while the Opposer community engaged less, retweeted more, and focused its use of URLs to link to mainstream sources, debunking the narratives and exposing the anomalous behaviour. This influenced the content of the broader discussion. Bot analysis revealed the active accounts were predominantly human, but behavioural and content analysis suggests Supporters engaged in trolling, though both communities used aggressive language.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisinformation in Open Online Media - 2nd Multidisciplinary International Symposium, MISDOOM 2020, Proceedings
EditorsMax van Duijn, Mike Preuss, Frank Takes, Suzan Verberne, Viktoria Spaiser
PublisherSpringer Science + Business Media
Pages159-173
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030618407
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event2nd Multidisciplinary International Symposium on Disinformation in Open Online Media, MISDOOM 2020 - Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 26 Oct 202027 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12259 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference2nd Multidisciplinary International Symposium on Disinformation in Open Online Media, MISDOOM 2020
Country/TerritoryNetherlands
CityLeiden
Period26/10/2027/10/20

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