Social Cyber Forensics Approach to Study Twitter’s and Blogs’ Influence on Propaganda Campaigns
In today’s information technology age our political discourse is shrinking to fit our smartphone screens. Online Deviant Groups (ODGs) use social media to coordinate cyber propaganda campaigns to achieve strategic and political goals, influence mass thinking, and steer behaviors. In this research, we study the ODGs who conducted cyber propaganda campaigns against NATO’s Trident Juncture Exercise 2015 (TRJE 2015) and how they used Twitter and blogs to drive the campaigns. Using a blended Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Social Cyber Forensics (SCF) approaches, “anti-NATO” narratives were identified on blogs. The narratives intensified as the TRJE 2015 approached. The most influential narrative identified by the proposed methodology called for civil disobedience and direct actions against TRJE 2015 specifically and NATO in general. We use SCF analysis to extract metadata associated with propaganda-riddled websites. The metadata helps in the collection of social and communication network information. By applying SNA on the data, we identify influential users and powerful groups (or, focal structures) coordinating the propaganda campaigns. Data for this research (including blogs and metadata) is accessible through our in-house developed Blogtrackers tool.
KeywordsCyber propaganda campaign Misinformation NATO Trident Juncture Exercise Narrative Influence Blogs Twitter Social media Social Network Analysis Cyber forensics Blogtrackers Social Cyber Forensics
This research is funded in part by NSF (IIS-1636933, IIS-1110868 and ACI-1429160), ONR (N000141010091, N000141410489, N0001415P1187, N000141612016, and N000141612412), AFRL, ARO (W911NF-16-1-0189), DARPA (W31P4Q-17-C-0059), and the Jerry L. Maulden/Entergy Fund at UA Little Rock.
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