• The Russia connectionRussian Influence Peddlers Carving Out New Audiences on Fringes

    By Jeff Seldin

    After four years of warnings and preparations, the 2020 presidential election did not see a repeat of 2016, when intelligence officials concluded Russia meddled using a combination of cyberattacks and influence operations. But according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as analysts, the good news ends there.

  • Extremism & social mediaAfter 8Chan

    By Florence Keen

    The notorious imageboard 8chan was taken offline in August 2019 after several far-right attacks revealed a connection to the site – most notably, the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, which left 51 people dead. A few months later in November 2019, a site known as 8kun was launched as a replacement, boasting similar freedoms and owned by the same person, Jim Watkins. What is evident is that almost a year into 8kun’s creation, the general attitude towards the site is wholly different to that of 8chan – in that the primary audience it was created for has largely rejected it as a less important and relevant site within chan culture.

  • Extremism & social mediaParler Is Bringing Together Mainstream Conservatives, Anti-Semites and White Supremacists as the Social Media Platform Attracts Millions of Trump Supporters

    By Alex Newhouse

    Since the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Parler has caught on among right-wing politicians and “influencers” – people with large online followings – as a social media platform where they can share and promote ideas without worrying about the company blocking or flagging their posts for being dangerous or misleading. However, the website has become a haven for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists who are now interacting with the mainstream conservatives flocking to the platform.

  • Social mediaWhy Social Media Has Changed the World — and How to Fix It

    By Peter Dizikes

    As social media platforms have grown, though, the once-prevalent, gauzy utopian vision of online community has disappeared. Along with the benefits of easy connectivity and increased information, social media has also become a vehicle for disinformation and political attacks from beyond sovereign borders. MIT Professor Sinan Aral’s new book, The Hype Machine, explores the perils and promise of social media in a time of discord.

  • ExtremismNew Research Projects to Shed New Light on the Intentions of Violent Extremists

    New research project aims to shed new light on the intentions of violent extremists. The “Disguised Compliance in Terrorist Offending” project will provide frontline staff across U.K. security agencies with the best tools and approaches to assess the true intention of people motivated to acts of violence by ideologies.

  • Conspiracy theoryAn AI Tool Can Distinguish Between a Conspiracy Theory and a True Conspiracy – It Comes Down to How Easily the Story Falls Apart

    By Timothy R. Tangherlini

    Conspiracy theories, which have the potential to cause significant harm, have found a welcome home on social media, where forums free from moderation allow like-minded individuals to converse. There they can develop their theories and propose actions to counteract the threats they “uncover.” But how can you tell if an emerging narrative on social media is an unfounded conspiracy theory? It turns out that it’s possible to distinguish between conspiracy theories and true conspiracies by using machine learning tools to graph the elements and connections of a narrative.

  • Election securityElection Security 2020: Why Did Things Go Right This Time?

    By Adam Segal, Connor Fairman, Lauren Dudley, and Maya Villasenor

    In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. government and technology companies took several steps to safeguard election security in cyberspace, focusing their efforts on disinformation and cyberattacks. Although there were a handful of incidents, none compromised the integrity of the election, and Election Day passed without any major disruption. Why did things go right this time? A combination of government and private sector action motivated by the lessons of the 2016 and 2018 elections. Still, as the vote count continues, disinformation remains a real threat.

  • ExtremismExtremism Gab Remains Extremists' Online Destination of Choice

    Two years ago, white supremacist Robert Bowers killed eleven people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after posting antisemitic, anti-immigrant rants on Gab. Today, supported by a founder who encourages hate speech, the social media site appears to be gaining traction among far-right extremists, including white supremacists: Sixty percent of the 47 far-right extremist groups currently on Gab were created this year.

  • Truth decayTricking Fake News Detectors with Malicious User Comments

    Fake news detectors, which have been deployed by social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to add warnings to misleading posts, have traditionally flagged online articles as false based on the story’s headline or content. However, recent approaches have considered other signals, such as network features and user engagements, in addition to the story’s content to boost their accuracies.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Post election disinformationSix Disinformation Threats in the Post-Election Period

    The problem of disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 election is well covered in the news media. Justin Hendrix writes that what hasn’t been as widely covered is the disinformation campaigns that will likely come right after Americans vote on 3 November.

  • Information operationsUnderstanding, and Countering, Information Operations

    In recent years, a growing number of governments, non-state actors, and citizens have rapidly expanded their use of pernicious information operations against other countries and even their fellow citizens. Social media and the internet have become the main tool. The current technological revolution has lowered the cost of entry for those wishing to spread misinformation and disinformation.

  • Election 2020Election 2020 Chatter on Twitter Busy with Bots and Conspiracy Theorists

    Bots and conspiracy theorists have infested the Twitter chatter around the upcoming U.S. presidential election, researchers have found. Looking at more than 240 million election-related tweets, the study found that thousands of automated accounts, known as bots, had posted tweets about President Donald Trump, his Democratic opponent former Vice President Joe Biden and both of their campaigns.

  • Truth decayThink Tanks in the Era of Truth Decay

    By Michael D. Rich

    We are living through a moment of crisis that will define who we are as a nation; yet we can’t even agree on what’s real and what’s rumor. Our political discourse too often amounts to opinions about opinions, shouted across a cable-television split screen. Asked to describe their feelings toward the federal government, a majority of Americans say either “frustrated” or “angry.” All of this points to a civic disease that I’ve been calling “Truth Decay,” and that has enfeebled our response to everything from climate change to domestic terrorism to a global pandemic.

  • DisinformationRussian Propaganda Hits Its Mark

    Given the size and scope of the Russian propaganda campaign that targeted the U.S. electorate in 2016, it is critical to understand both the impact of that campaign and the mechanisms that can reduce the impact of future campaigns, says a new RAND report.

  • DeepfakesSeeing Is No Longer Believing: Manipulation of Online Images

    Image editing software is so ubiquitous and easy to use, and deadline-driven journalists lack the tools to tell the difference, especially when the images come through from social media.