How Automated Tweets Helped Shape the Common-Core Debate

In Education, Misleading Information On

If you’ve been following the Common Core State Standards on social media, especially Twitter, you may have noticed a number of not-so-gradual sea changes.

At first, the people most engaged in the debate about the standards—both supporters and opponents—were involved with education in some way. By 2016, however, the common core was the subject of passionate social media campaigns led by people who weren’t affiliated with particular education policy groups or schools. And defenders of the standards became increasingly outnumbered and outvoiced online by staunch opponents of the standards, both liberal and conservative, who increasingly framed the standards as problematic or even dangerous.

Their findings offer evidence of a number of broader trends in information and politics. For instance, the researchers observed that consumers of political information online are becoming increasingly segmented, and that fabricated news stories about the standards have been circulating online for years.

At one point, over a quarter of Tweets related to the common core were tied to the Patriot Journalist Network, a conservative group that organized “hashtag rallies” and helped its members automate and schedule messages to maximize their voice in conversations about topics that included abortion and Israel as well as the common core. Many of the Tweets bear the hashtag #PJNET. But the report’s authors write that the network largely flew under the radar of journalists.

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