Understanding Trolls, Spam, and Nasty Content
December 9, 2015
The Internet is full of junk. It is a cold hard fact and one that will never die as long as the Internet exists. The amount of trash content was only intensified with the introduction of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterst, and other social media platforms and it keeps pouring onto RSS feeds. The academic community is always up for new studies and capturing new data, so a researcher from the University of Arkansas decided to study mean content. “How ‘Deviant’ Messages Flood Social Media” from Science Daily is an interesting new idea that carries the following abstract:
“From terrorist propaganda distributed by organizations such as ISIS, to political activism, diverse voices now use social media as their major public platform. Organizations deploy bots — virtual, automated posters — as well as enormous paid “armies” of human posters or trolls, and hacking schemes to overwhelmingly infiltrate the public platform with their message. A professor of information science has been awarded a grant to continue his research that will provide an in-depth understanding of the major propagators of viral, insidious content and the methods that make them successful.”
Dr. Nitin Agarwal and will study what behavioral, social, and computational factors cause Internet content to go viral, especially if they have deviant theme. Deviant means along the lines something a troll would post. Agarwal’s research is part of a bigger investigation funded by the Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research, National Science Foundation, and Army Research Office. Agarwal will have a particular focus on how terrorist groups and extremist governments use social media platforms to spread their propaganda. He will also be studying bots that post online content as well.
Many top brass organizations do not have the faintest idea of even what some of the top social media platforms are, much less what their purpose is. A study like this will raise the blinders about them and teach researchers how social media actually works. I wonder if they will venture into 4chan.