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Like many of you, I abhor the way some news sites concoct stories out of random social media postings, neglecting to contextualise or do any basic follow-ups. But there are ways to use the raw material of social media to garner insights into how civil society, and increasingly uncivil society, is being steered to a particular narrative or course of action.

In some ways, this process is like being in a city under siege. Every morning, you awaken from your uneasy sleep, and walk out into the streets to read the revolutionary graffiti that appears on the walls overnight, only to be scrubbed away by the representatives of polite society in the mornings. Or, a better metaphor, reading the splattered misinformation of bad actors and corrupted lapdogs is like being a neighbourhood dog following the trail of urination left to mark territory...

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