A preprint of the paper titled “Anatomy of an AI-powered malicious social botnet” by Yang and Menczer was posted on arXiv. Concerns have been raised that large language models (LLMs) could be utilized to produce fake content with a deceptive intention, although evidence thus far remains anecdotal. This paper presents a case study about a coordinated inauthentic network of over a thousand fake Twitter accounts that employ ChatGPT to post machine-generated content and stolen images, and to engage with each other through replies and retweets. ChatGPT-generated content promotes suspicious crypto and news websites and spreads harmful comments. While the accounts in the AI botnet can be detected through their coordination patterns, current state-of-the-art LLM content classifiers fail to discriminate between them and human accounts in the wild. These findings highlight the threats posed by AI-enabled social bots and have been covered by Tech Policy Press, Business Insider, Wired, and Mashable, among others. And to no one’s surprise, versions of these articles likely summarized by ChatGPT already appear on plagiarized “news websites.”
We’re excited to announce that researchers at the Observatory on Social Media, the IU Network Science Institute, and the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research will present 57 papers at various conferences over the summer.
Today the Observatory on Social Media and CNetS launched a revamped research tool to give journalists, other researchers, and the public a broad view of what’s happening on social media. The tool helps overcome some of the biggest challenges of interpreting information flow online, which is often difficult to understand because it’s so fast-paced and experienced from the perspective of an individual account’s newsfeed.Continue reading New network visualization tool maps information spread
We have two big announcements! First, CNetS (along with IUNI and OSoMe) is moving to the new Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence. Second, we have a new tenure-track assistant professor position in Artificial Intelligence and Network Science. We welcome any candidates who study AI, complex systems, and network science (all broadly defined). Potential research areas include, but are not limited to, deep learning, graph neural networks, complex systems, complex networks, computational neuroscience, computational social science, social media analytics, agent-based models, and the impacts of AI and social media on society. We especially welcome applications from members of underrepresented groups in computing. More info and application here!
Our latest paper “Neutral bots probe political bias on social media” by Wen Chen, Diogo Pacheco, Kai-Cheng Yang & Fil Menczer just came out in Nature Communications. We find strong evidence of political bias on Twitter, but not as many think: (1) it is conservative rather than liberal bias, and (2) it results from user interactions (and abuse) rather than platform algorithms. We tracked neutral “drifter” bots to probe political biases. In the figure, we see the drifters in yellow and a sample of their friends and followers colored according to political alignment. Large nodes are accounts sharing a lot of low-credibility links.Continue reading Probing political bias on Twitter with drifter bots
Our 2011 paper Political Polarization on Twitter was recognized at the 2021 AAAI International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) with the Test of Time Award. First author Mike Conover, who was then a PhD student and is now Director of Machine Learning Engineering at Workday, accepted the award at a ceremony at the end of the ICWSM conference. Other authors are Jacob Ratkiewicz (now a Tech Lead at Google), Bruno Gonçalves (now VP at JPMorgan Chase), Matt Francisco (now Lecturer at IU Luddy School), Alessandro Flammini (Professor of Informatics at IU Luddy), and Filippo Menczer (Distinguished Professor and Director of the Observatory on Social Media at IU).Continue reading ICWSM Test of Time Award
CNetS alumnus Mihai Avram is the recipient of the 2020 Indiana University Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award for his work on Hoaxy and Fakey: Tools to Analyze and Mitigate the Spread of Misinformation in Social Media. This award recognizes a “truly outstanding” Master’s thesis based on criteria such as originality, documentation, significance, accuracy, organization, and style. Some of the findings in Mihai’s thesis have recently been published in the paper Exposure to social engagement metrics increases vulnerability to misinformation, in The Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review. Congratulations Mihai!
On 15 September 2020, The Washington Post published an article by Isaac Stanley-Becker titled “Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter.” The article reported on a network of accounts run by teenagers in Phoenix, who were coordinated and paid by an affiliate of conservative youth organization Turning Point USA. These accounts posted identical messages amplifying political narratives, including false claims about COVID-19 and electoral fraud. The same campaign was run on Twitter and Facebook, and both platforms suspended some of the accounts following queries from Stanley-Becker. The report was based in part on a preliminary analysis we conducted at the request of The Post. In this brief we provide further details about our analysis.Continue reading Evidence of a coordinated network amplifying inauthentic narratives in the 2020 US election
We are excited to announce the new v.1.3 of BotSlayer, our OSoMe cloud tool that lets journalists, researchers, citizens, & civil society organizations track narratives and detect potentially coordinated inauthentic information networks on Twitter in real-time. Improvements and new features include better stability, a new alert system, a Mac installer, and many additions to the interface. This version is released in time for those who would like to use BotSlayer to monitor #Election2020 manipulation.Continue reading UPDATE: BotSlayer tool to expose disinformation networks