Author Archive

Panagiotis “Takis” Metaxas

Panagiotis “Takis” Metaxas is a Professor of Computer Science at Wellesley College and the Faculty Director of the Albright Institute for Global Affairs. He is a visiting scholar at Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs and Wolfson College. His current projects involve studying the power of crowdsourcing on social networks, primarily related to the prediction of political events, and understanding how misinformation propagates online.

In this article, we use TwitterTrails[i] to follow and analyse the online conversation about the contentious Irish abortion referendum. This referendum offers a useful opportunity for study because it is one of the first referendums in a Western democracy since 2016, when the phenomenon of misinformation on the Internet first gained prominence. Following the revelations of foreign social media interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Irish referendum was widely seen as a test for social media companies’ ability to protect voters from election meddling.[ii] Some social media companies, such as Facebook and Google, had taken action and previously introduced tools to improve transparency. Indeed, eventually, Facebook blocked political advertising from groups outside Ireland altogether. Google soon joined this …