Marios D. Dikaiakos
Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Abstract: From Fake News to Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference: Considerations on Threats, Mechanisms & Mitigation.
The nexus of Fake News, Hate Speech, and Polarization is a grave problem in online social media platforms. Evidence suggests that this nexus is not merely an unintended byproduct of online social media dynamics but is rather the outcome of computational propaganda campaigns, which spread inaccurate or deceptive content on social media platforms in an automated manner and at a massive scale and velocity. Democratic institutions worldwide, are increasingly worried about hybrid warfare activities conducted by foreign state and non-state actors, who weaponize online social media to manipulate public opinion, undermine institutional independence and stability, erode public trust and citizens’ participation in governance processes, polarize society, and incite civil unrest. These activities represent a complex, global challenge that is constantly evolving and poses a severe threat to the security and sovereignty of democratic nations.
To counter the threat of computational propaganda, multi-disciplinary efforts are underway to understand, identify, analyze, and mitigate social media manipulation. In this talk, we review the key mechanisms that facilitate the exploitation of online social media as instruments of misinformation, the tactics employed in disinformation campaigns, and their impact on societies and democratic processes. We discuss countermeasures proposed to mitigate the spread of computational propaganda, and present approaches we proposed to analyze polarization, to identify and cope with fake news, and to identify and map hate speech. Finally, we discuss open challenges and research opportunities that arise from the emergence of recent technological breakthroughs in AI.