The ABCs of Disinformation

Time: 13.30 - 14.15

Venue: 2.218 University Place, University of Manchester

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Online disinformation imposes a social cost on human interactions at a large scale. Different groups of actors are working to defray this cost: scholars have investigated the automatic detection and removal of disinformation from content streams; legislators and governments have aimed to carve out spaces they could regulate to address the issue; technology platforms have sought to ensure their Community Guidelines or Terms of Services allowed clear basis for enforcement around disinformation on their products. However, all three approaches have to date largely focused on the “content” vector of disinformation (“fake” news, posts to be fact-checked, harmful messaging regarding elections). Furthermore, current approaches have been fragmented, with different teams in different organizations applying distinct standards of enforcement. An effective, integrated solution to the problem of online disinformation requires examining not just the Content but also the Actors and Behaviour behind the same. We propose an ABC framework to tease out these three key vectors characteristic of viral deception campaigns and guide thinking regarding detection strategies and enforcement responses. The lecture will last approximately 30 minutes with 15 minutes for questions. 


Dr Vladimir Barash is the Director of Graphika Labs, the research and development department of Graphika. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, where he studied Information Science and wrote his thesis on the flow of rumors and virally marketed products through social networks. At Graphika, Dr. Barash oversees research into social network analysis and large-scale social phenomena, which powers Graphika’s cutting-edge analytic engine. Under Dr. Barash's leadership, Graphika Labs has performed on multi-year grants to study the emergence of viral social movements and analyse the causal mechanisms of complex social systems. Dr. Barash has also developed, in collaboration with academic and industrial partners, a coordination framework for detecting adversarial information campaigns. Dr. Barash is a contributor to several major reports mapping disinformation both in the US (with the Knight Foundation and George Washington University) and in European countries (with the London School of Economics and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue). Dr. Barash has testified before the US House Veterans Affairs Committee on foreign influence operations targeting American Veterans and Military Service Members.

This event is proudly supported by Policy@Manchester and Digital Futures.

This is a free event, but please email Digital Futures to confirm your attendance.