During presidential debate on social media, we’re loud-mouth, name-calling, trash-talking bots

Well, so much for that notion that all this social media jib-jab allows we, the people, to participate in this great democratic moment known as the presidential debate. Now that we are the media, now that we swing our own megaphone, just how do we just to use it?

According to analysis of social media conversations by the firm Impermium, social media platforms during the debate were “dominated by hostile, profane comments about both candidates and that machine generated spam and a small number of very vocal posters almost drowns out any intelligent conversation.”


Says Impermium CEO Mark Risher:

“Voters looking to engage in a conversation about tonight’s debate in social media channels instead were confronted with messaging mayhem stirred up by spam machines and a vocal minority of spammers who shut out other commenters. It’s safe to say that social media is not playing the role it could in creating a more informed electorate.”

If were one to take the less optimistic view, one could also conclude that social media is revealing our truer selves. But then, that would be a depressing thought.

Imperium provides real-time analysis of use and sentiment across a wide range of social media platforms. On Tuesday evening they released the results of their monitoring of social medium conversations. It ain’t good:

  • “46% of political comments during the debate were generated by just 1% of users.”
  • “Comments slurring Obama exceeded those against Romney by 5x.”
  • “The top themes provoking profanity on social media were gas prices, the economy and taxes.”
  • “Comments mentioning the candidates were up 21% when compared to the same time period yesterday.”

Well, at least the one isn’t so bad. So, what were our favorite insults?

For Obama:

  • Nobama
  • Obummer
  • Odumbo
  • Obozo
  • Empty Suit

For Romney:

  • R Money
  • More Money
  • Mittens
  • Robme
  • Obama lite

Oh, we are a witty, witty bunch. Or, at least our bots are. In previous debates, Impermium determined that:

  • “Nearly 5 percent of frequent political posters mentioned Obama or Romney are from automated spam campaigns.”
  • “Insulting, abusive and profane political posts increased by up to 300 percent after significant campaign related events.”
  • “During a five month period, more than 220,000 political comments were almost verbatin repetition of the same messages.”
  • “This campaign season, 1,000 prolific political posters used two or more identities.”
  • “During a 90-day period, a single user posted more than 16,000 comments.”

So take heart. Because while it was bad tonight, it will get worse in the coming days.

(photo by the Associated Press)


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