Department

Computer Science

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

4-26-2010

Abstract

Recently, all major search engines introduced a new feature: real-time search results, embedded in the first page of organic search results. The content appearing in these results is pulled by Twitter, blogs, and news websites within minutes of its generation. In this paper, we argue that in the context of political speech, this feature provides disproportionate exposure to personal opinions, fabricated content, unverified events, lies and misrepresentations that would otherwise not find their way in the first page, giving them the opportunity to spread virally. We provide evidence from the recent Massachusetts senate race between Martha Coakley and Scott Brown, analyzing attacks launched inside Twitter.

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