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Elon Musk’s bid spotlights Twitter’s unique role in public discourse – and what changes might be in store

Twitter, more than other social media platforms, fosters real-time discussion about events as they unfold. That could change if Musk gains control of the…

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Twitter may not be a darling of Wall Street, but it occupies a unique place in the social media landscape. AP Photo/Richard Drew

Twitter has been in the news a lot lately, albeit for the wrong reasons. Its stock growth has languished and the platform itself has largely remained the same since its founding in 2006. On April 14, 2022, Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, made an offer to buy Twitter and take the public company private.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk stated, “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.”

As a researcher of social media platforms, I find that Musk’s potential ownership of Twitter and his stated reasons for buying the company raise important issues. Those issues stem from the nature of the social media platform and what sets it apart from others.

What makes Twitter unique

Twitter occupies a unique niche. Its short chunks of text and threading foster real-time conversations among thousands of people, which makes it popular with celebrities, media personalities and politicians alike.

Social media analysts talk about the half-life of content on a platform, meaning the time it takes for a piece of content to reach 50% of its total lifetime engagement, usually measured in number of views or popularity based metrics. The average half life of a tweet is about 20 minutes, compared to five hours for Facebook posts, 20 hours for Instagram posts, 24 hours for LinkedIn posts and 20 days for YouTube videos. The much shorter half life illustrates the central role Twitter has come to occupy in driving real-time conversations as events unfold.

Twitter’s ability to shape real-time discourse, as well as the ease with which data, including geo-tagged data, can be gathered from Twitter has made it a gold mine for researchers to analyze a variety of societal phenomena, ranging from public health to politics. Twitter data has been used to predict asthma-related emergency department visits, measure public epidemic awareness, and model wildfire smoke dispersion.

Tweets that are part of a conversation are shown in chronological order, and, even though much of a tweet’s engagement is frontloaded, the Twitter archive provides instant and complete access to every public Tweet. This positions Twitter as a historical chronicler of record and a de facto fact checker.

Changes on Musk’s mind

A crucial issue is how Musk’s ownership of Twitter, and private control of social media platforms generally, affect the broader public well-being. In a series of deleted tweets, Musk made several suggestions about how to change Twitter, including adding an edit button for tweets and granting automatic verification marks to premium users.

There is no experimental evidence about how an edit button would change information transmission on Twitter. However, it’s possible to extrapolate from previous research that analyzed deleted tweets.

There are numerous ways to retrieve deleted tweets, which allows researchers to study them. While some studies show significant personality differences between users who delete their tweets and those who don’t, these findings suggest that deleting tweets is a way for people to manage their online identities.

Analyzing deleting behavior can also yield valuable clues about online credibility and disinformation. Similarly, if Twitter adds an edit button, analyzing the patterns of editing behavior could provide insights into Twitter users’ motivations and how they present themselves.

Studies of bot-generated activity on Twitter have concluded that nearly half of accounts tweeting about COVID-19 are likely bots. Given partisanship and political polarization in online spaces, allowing users – whether they are automated bots or actual people – the option to edit their tweets could become another weapon in the disinformation arsenal used by bots and propagandists. Editing tweets could allow users to selectively distort what they said, or deny making inflammatory remarks, which could complicate efforts to trace misinformation.

Twitter’s content moderation and revenue model

To understand Musk’s motivations and what lies next for social media platforms such as Twitter, it’s important to consider the gargantuan – and opaque – online advertising ecosystem involving multiple technologies wielded by ad networks, social media companies and publishers. Advertising is the primary revenue source for Twitter.

Musk’s vision is to generate revenue for Twitter from subscriptions rather than advertising. Without having to worry about attracting and retaining advertisers, Twitter would have less pressure to focus on content moderation. This would make Twitter a sort of freewheeling opinion site for paying subscribers. Twitter has been aggressive in using content moderation in its attempts to address disinformation.

Musk’s description of a platform free from content moderation issues is troubling in light of the algorithmic harms caused by social media platforms. Research has shown a host of these harms, such as algorithms that assign gender to users, potential inaccuracies and biases in algorithms used to glean information from these platforms, and the impact on those looking for health information online.

Testimony by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and recent regulatory efforts such as the online safety bill unveiled in the U.K. show there is broad public concern about the role played by technology platforms in shaping popular discourse and public opinion. Musk’s potential bid for Twitter highlights a whole host of regulatory concerns.

Because of Musk’s other businesses, Twitter’s ability to influence public opinion in the sensitive industries of aviation and the automobile industry would automatically create a conflict of interest, not to mention affecting the disclosure of material information necessary for shareholders. Musk has already been accused of delaying disclosure of his ownership stake in Twitter.

Twitter’s own algorithmic bias bounty challenge concluded that there needs to be a community-led approach to build better algorithms. A very creative exercise developed by the MIT Media Lab asks middle schoolers to re-imagine the YouTube platform with ethics in mind. Perhaps it’s time to ask Twitter to do the same, whoever owns and manages the company.

[Over 150,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletters to understand the world. Sign up today.]

Anjana Susarla receives funding from the National Institute of Health and from the Omura-Saxena Professorship in Responsible AI.

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Why Is The VIX So Low? A Surprising Answer Emerges In The Market’s Microstructure

Why Is The VIX So Low? A Surprising Answer Emerges In The Market’s Microstructure

One of the most frequent questions tossed around Wall Street…

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Why Is The VIX So Low? A Surprising Answer Emerges In The Market's Microstructure

One of the most frequent questions tossed around Wall Street trading desks (and strip clubs), and which was duly covered by Bloomberg recently in "Fear Has Gone Missing in Wall Street’s Slow-Motion Bear Market", is why despite the crushing bear market and the coming recession, does the VIX refuse to rise sustainably above 30, or in other words, why is the VIX so low?

As Goldman's Rocky Fishman wrote in a recent note "Option Markets Take the SPX Bear Market in Stride" (available to professional subs), "one of the most popular questions we have received is why the VIX hasn't surpassed its March peak (36) despite the SPX being lower than it was in March and realized vol being higher than it was in March."

Here, Fishman notes that implied volatility was unusually high in March, and the current VIX level (29) is only slightly low for the current level of realized vol. Furthermore, a VIX around 30 typically happens with the 5Y CDX HY spread above 600, and although it has risen steadily it's currently in the mid 500's.

Meanwhile, even as the VIX has fallen moderately since late April, both vol risk premium and skew have both fallen dramatically.

Picking up on this quandary, overnight JMorgan also joined the discussion with its analyst Peng Cheng laying out his own thoughts on why the VIX remains so low (note is also available to professional subs), and similar to Goldman notes that the current bear market, despite being deeper in magnitude, has produced VIX levels well below the peak observed during previous market sell-offs:

However, unlike Goldman which mostly analyzes the VIX in the context of a macro framework, JPM's Cheng offers observations based on his analysis of market microstructure in both equity and options markets.

Cheng starts with the previously noted low realized volatility: as the JPM strategist writes, YTD, the SPX realized vol, measured on a close to close basis, is only 25.5, which means that delta-hedged put options would have lost money in the gamma component. From a technical perspective, JPM believes that return volatility is dampened by a lack of intraday price momentum and increasingly frequent occurrences of intraday price reversal. As seen in the next chart, intraday reversal has only started to become noticeable in the last two years. Prior to that, intraday momentum was the dominant market behavior.

This diminishing intraday price momentum has had a non-trivial impact on realized volatility, according to JPM which estimates that if the intraday return correlation remained the same as pre-pandemic, YTD volatility would be close to 28.8, or 3.3 vol points higher than realized.

As an aside, those asking for the reason behind this change in intraday patterns in the last couple of years, Cheng notes that "this is a complex topic" but in short, his view is that it is a result of 1) crowding in intraday momentum trading strategies and 2) a potential shift in option gamma dynamics as discussed below.

Supply/demand of S&P 500 options: Although the estimation of market level option gamma profile is highly dependent on many factors, including assumptions on open interest, OTC options, and leveraged ETFs, etc., in a report published earlier this year, JPM's quants presented a more dynamic estimation of the gamma profile by using tick level data. Specifically, they assigned directions to SPX and SPY option trades based on their distance to the best bid/offer at the tick level, rather than the constant assumption of investors being outright long puts and short calls. The updated results are shown below.

Tha chart shows that starting in 2020, the put gamma imbalance has fallen meaningfully. This is the result of investors’ changing preference from buying outright puts to put spreads for protection, in JPM's view. And year to date, the decline in gamma demand has not improved. Moreover, and echoing what we have said on several recent occasions, JPM notes that judging from the outright negative put gamma imbalance in early 2022, it appears that investors have been monetizing hedges that had been held since 2021 - note the consistently positive and relatively elevated put gamma imbalance throughout 2021, which suggests that protections were put on during this period.

More in the full note available to pro subs

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 15:05

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Dr. Stephen Kingsmore receives prestigious Precision Medicine World Conference 2022 Luminary Award

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – June 29, 2022 – Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine® (RCIGM) today announced that Stephen Kingsmore, MD, DSc, President…

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. – June 29, 2022 – Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine® (RCIGM) today announced that Stephen Kingsmore, MD, DSc, President and CEO, was presented with the Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2022 Luminary Award at this year’s conference in the Silicon Valley region of California for his innovation in rapid neonatal molecular diagnoses using whole-genome sequencing.

Credit: Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – June 29, 2022 – Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine® (RCIGM) today announced that Stephen Kingsmore, MD, DSc, President and CEO, was presented with the Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2022 Luminary Award at this year’s conference in the Silicon Valley region of California for his innovation in rapid neonatal molecular diagnoses using whole-genome sequencing.

The Luminary Award recognizes the recent contributions of prominent figures who have accelerated precision medicine into the clinic. Additional PMWC 2022 honorees included Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer, for his extraordinary achievement in leading the record-time development of a vaccine and antiviral drug against the coronavirus and Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna, for overseeing R&D of the first antiviral synthetic mRNA vaccines ever created, including the one against COVID-19.

“I am honored to receive this award and be among this extraordinary group of past and present recipients focused on the clinical adoption of precision medicine,” said Dr. Kingsmore. “At RCIGM, we are transforming pediatric healthcare through the power of Rapid Precision Medicine™ by offering the fastest delivery of rapid Whole Genome Sequencing™ to enable prompt diagnosis and targeted treatment of critically ill newborns and children in intensive care. We know that time matters – a fast, molecular diagnosis can make the difference between improved outcomes and a lifetime of disability, or even life itself.”

Dr. Kingsmore leads a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, physicians, genetic counselors, software engineers and bioinformaticians who are pioneering the use of rWGS® to enable precise diagnoses for critically ill newborns. In 2021, he led the RCIGM team to set a new record of 13.5 hours for achieving the fastest molecular diagnosis using rWGS, breaking his previous 2018 world record of 19.5 hours. 

PMWC is the largest and original annual conference dedicated to precision medicine. PMWC’s mission is to bring together recognized leaders, top global researchers and medical professionals, and innovators across healthcare and biotechnology sectors to showcase practical content that helps close the knowledge gap between different sectors, thereby catalyzing cross-functional fertilization and collaboration in an effort to accelerate the development and spread of precision medicine.

Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine

Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine is transforming neonatal and pediatric health care by harnessing the power of Rapid Precision Medicine™ to improve the lives of children and families facing rare genetic disease. Founded by Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center, the Institute offers the fastest delivery of rapid Whole Genome Sequencing™ to enable prompt diagnosis and targeted treatment of critically ill newborns and children in intensive care. The Institute now provides clinical genomic diagnostic services for a growing network of more than 70 children’s hospitals. The vision is for this life-changing technology to become standard of care and enable clinicians nationwide to provide rapid, personalized care. Learn more about the non-profit Institute at RadyGenomics.org. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:

Ben Metcalf
bmetcalf@rchsd.org
+1 (619) 822-8593
 


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Fauci Suffers “Much Worse” COVID Symptoms After ‘Paxlovid Rebound’

Fauci Suffers "Much Worse" COVID Symptoms After ‘Paxlovid Rebound’

Fully-vaxx’d and double-boosted mask-admirer Anthony Fauci is suffering.

Two…

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Fauci Suffers "Much Worse" COVID Symptoms After 'Paxlovid Rebound'

Fully-vaxx'd and double-boosted mask-admirer Anthony Fauci is suffering.

Two weeks ago, we reported that President Biden's chief medical adviser had COVID.

The 81-year-old reportedly had 'mild symptoms' and of course he 'said the words'...

Of course, Fauci followed the CDC guidelines and ingested the government-blessed treatment - Paxlovid - due to his age and possible risks from the virus.

So, that should have been it right?

But no. During an event at Foreign Policy’s Global Health Forum, Fauci admitted he had not had a good experience:

“After I finished the five days of Paxlovid, I reverted to negative on an antigen test for three days in a row,” Fauci said Tuesday .

“And then on the fourth day, just to be absolutely certain, I tested myself again. I reverted back to positive.”

Interestingly, Fauci admitted:

"...this is becoming more and more typical based on more clinical studies..."

As Bloomberg reports, large numbers of patients have reported the phenomenon, often called Covid rebound or Paxlovid rebound, of returning symptoms after taking a full course of Pfizer’s drug.

While Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourlasaid in May that doctors could prescribe a second course of treatment to such patients, US drug regulators have said there’s no evidence that a repeat will help.

However, Fauci said he started taking a second course of Paxlovid after experiencing symptoms “much worse than in the first go around.”

Now near completion of the five-day oral treatment, he said he was still enduring symptoms but felt “reasonably good.”

Finally, as we reported less than two weeks ago, Pfizer stopped enrolling in a clinical trial for Paxlovid for standard-risk COVID-19 patients after the latest results suggested the drug did not reduce symptoms or hospitalizations and deaths to a statistically significant degree.

Watch the full interview below: (forward to around 5:26:00):

Not exactly encouraging news...

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 11:45

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