Artificial intelligence and machine-driven content creation and circulation are significant components of contemporary disinformation efforts. We will describe and evaluate aspects of social media systems involved in disinformation campaigns. We aim to provide a deep understanding of the historical, contextual and international processes of disinformation that move through AI and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Our approach defines “good systems” not only technological but also as social, organizational, and political. Specifically, we will:

  1. Produce quantitative and qualitative studies that analyze the persuasive content and mimetic qualities in the Facebook ads released by the US Congress in 2018. Our early research suggests these ads have little to do with “fake news” and everything to do with evoking emotional responses that are amplified by social media platforms;
  2. Use fieldwork to examine message circulation and reception properties from the perspectives of users who read Facebook ads in 2016-2017. We want to better understand the triggers and environments that prompt people to actually act in response to social media ads; and
  3. Investigate Twitter data linked to Russian accounts. Using a one year timeframe, this study will investigate emotional and mimetic qualities in these tweets and seek to explore the algorithmic qualities contributing to possible effectiveness.


Project team: Kiril Avramov (Slavic and Eurasian Studies), Jaewon Choi (Education), Maria Esteva (TACC), Mary Neuburger (History), Soyoung Park (Radio-Television-Film), Jason Roberts (Slavic and Eurasian Studies), Natalie Stroud (Communication Studies), Sharon Strover (Journalism)