At a time when the world is advancing in technologies at a dizzy rate, it is safe to say that social media channels have become the order of the day. Today, it just does not connect people or help them communicate, it has grown to be the biggest influencer in our lives. The Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS) Lab uses social computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cyber forensics, and deep web search-based methodologies to study individuals, groups, and societies; online behaviors as they manifest and co-evolve with the digital communication tools; and information on the Internet. Furthermore, how information and behaviors spread through social media and digital communication platforms, how groups evolve, what is the role of social, political, and cultural dynamics in various physical or cyber events, and how people and groups strategically use digital communication tools and the information (mis/dis-information) to conduct campaigns for raising awareness about social issues or simply disseminate propaganda.
At COSMOS, we study the various aspects of social media and online behavior – the good, bad and the ugly. From Saudi Arabians women’s rights to drive cyber campaigns to Autism campaigns to ISIS’ and anti-West/anti-NATO propaganda campaigns, Dr. Nitin Agarwal is directing several such research projects with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), U.S. Army Research Office (ARO), and U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Research at COSMOS has made foundational contributions to computational social network analysis to study digital/cyber campaign coordination, identify powerful actors and groups, study propaganda dissemination, event analysis, monitoring cyber threats through social media, social-cyberforensics , smart health and well-being, social media in learning environments, network and communication, and socially aware mobile networks.
COSMOS has developed a tool called ‘BlogTrackers’ which allows users to analyze blogs, identify key information actors, opinion leaders, leading narratives during information campaigns, and study how those narratives spread through myriad forms of social media.
The research is grounded in the social science theories of cyber collective action, social identity formation, resource mobilization, and social movement spillover and leverages concepts from information & computational sciences (including machine learning, data mining, graph mining, social network analysis, content analysis, and natural language processing) and cyber forensic domain.
Today, the lab attracts major talents from within the USA and across the world. It aims to be at the vanguard of the ever-evolving online behaviors.
COSMOS through its primary research interests in social computing, (deviant) behavior modeling, studying group dynamics, influence, trust, collective action, social-cyber forensics, health informatics, data mining and privacy aims to be at the vanguard of the ever-evolving online behaviors.