Bill Gates had to find an explanation as to why Common Core has become increasingly unpopular. He funded a study that found the source of Common Core advocates’ woes.
Yes you read that right – Twitterbots are to blame.
The Consortium for Policy Research in Education decided it would look at how social media impacted Common Core so it launched the #CommonCore Project. Apparently that was more important than actually, I don’t know, studying how Common Core has shaped public policy.
Has social media impacted the education debate? Absolutely.
Are Tweetbots to blame? Well that’s the new narrative now.
The Huffington Post published this “An Army of Sophisticated Bots is Influencing the Debate Around Education.”
For several years, university researchers have been watching how the debate surrounding Common Core has played out on Twitter. Between 2013 and 2016, they analyzed about 1 million tweets to understand how the social network was changing political discourse in America ― not only as it related to Common Core, but in a much larger sense.
Their discovery wasn’t pretty. Three years before “fake news” became a mainstream issue, fabrications and misinformation had already intensified the degree of polarization around Common Core. As the media landscape became increasingly vast and fragmented, news consumers seemed to seek out ideas that reinforced their preconceived notions, and alternative news sources spread easily discredited misinformation about the controversial standards.
One of the researchers’ more disturbing findings is that a grassroots group called Patriot Journalist Network came to dominate the Common Core discussion on Twitter by spreading hyperbolic or false claims through the use of sophisticated “Twitterbots.” The bots would mechanically tweet messages from the accounts of PJNET members whether or not they were online. (PJNET’s network of conservative Twitter activists reaches approximately 21 million Twitter accounts, the researchers found.)
Members of PJNET ― which is led by Mark Prasek and affiliated with a for-profit church in Florida ― also participate in organized online events called hashtag rallies where they tweet out pre-produced messages at the same time.
I’ve used PJNet in the past. I’ve participated in Twitter rallies. What the Huffington Post published here is simply a lie. Yes they offer pre-produced Tweets, but you, the Twitter account owner, actually have to send it. There is nothing automated about it.
I also know or know of people who participate.
As far as the messaging goes it mainly focuses on what top-down education reform does. Is some of it hyperbole? Sure. Is it all a pack of lies? Personally I don’t always agree with tweets they send out. The goal behind PJNet is to encourage people and give them the ability to tweet out as many tweets as they can in a short amount of time. It gets the attention of lawmakers. It helps the #StopCommonCore (or whatever hashtag is decided upon for the rally), and when PJNet is involved, the #PJNet hashtags to trend.
I like to write my own tweets. Full confession here… I do schedule mine during rallies because I typically run not only my personal Twitter account, but Truth in American Education’s and sometimes a couple other organization accounts if it makes sense for the particular Twitter rally (I want to make it clear these are organization Twitter accounts that represent real people, I do not run fake individual profile accounts and never will).
Does this make me a Twitterbot? No it makes me a social media manager who wants to be efficient since I’m responsible for a number of accounts. I like to watch the hashtags and have the ability to retweet good tweets I see. That is something I would rather spend my time during the rally doing rather than writing tweets. By the way I use Hootsuite to do this, something that is available to anybody who wants to pay under $10.00 a month.
The Huffington Post isn’t the only ones to grab ahold of this ridiculous study. The 74 has picked this up as well. “New Research Shows How Common Core Critics Built Social Media ‘Botnets’ to Skew the Education Debate.”
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Look at the billions of money Bill Gates has poured into Common Core advocacy, but apparently that doesn’t skew the education debate? How about the Race to the Top money? I’m sure that didn’t skew the education debate either.
They won’t complain about that however because at the bottom of their article.
“Disclosure: The #commoncore project received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also provides funding to The 74.”
Hey ignore the Gates money…. look Twitterbots!
Since 2010, when I started to write at Truth in American Education, this has to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve seen related to the Common Core debate.