United States Senator John Boozman visited UA Little Rock on Friday, November 15, 2019. He met with COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal and several researchers to gain insights about the work COSMOS is conducting.  COSMOS has been awarded a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop ways to track emerging cyber-social threats and strengthen social cybersecurity research infrastructure. Dr. Agarwal presented his talk “Deviant Mobs of the Internet: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures” during which he discussed how social media analytics research is used to track malicious activities, including the dissemination of propaganda, hoaxes, and disinformation to influence beliefs and behaviors. “WeRead More →

Richard Young successfully defended his information science master’s project “Chromaweaver: A Moviebarcode Analysis Tool for Youtube” Friday, November 8, 2019.  In attendance were committee members Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Bruce Bauer and Dr. Joseph Williams as well as members of COSMOS. Richard is a remote student currently living in Spain and did his defense via Google Hangout.  For his project, Richard explored moviebarcode image processing techniques that can be integrated into the COSMOS application YoutubeTracker. The end result is the standalone application Chromaweaver, which serves as a moviebarcode analysis tool for Youtube videos. Richard documented his work for the project as a blog. BeingRead More →

Congratulations to Zachary Stine for being accepted to the 2019-2021 HASTAC Scholars Program. HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) is a student-driven community of graduate and undergraduate students who are working at the intersection of technology and the arts, humanities and sciences.  Stine joined around 100 new scholars who have been accepted into the two-year cohort of the program. As a HASTAC Scholar, he will have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with others who share his research interests in religious studies and Natural Language Processing (NLP) while contributing to the program by blogging about his research.  During the two-year fellowship program,Read More →

COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal participated in the two-day workshop “Understanding and Countering Online Falsehoods and Influence Operations” organized by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a research unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  CENS brought together experts from academia, industry and governments from across the globe to share their insights and experiences.  The goal was to gain a better understanding of the issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, how organizations and countries deal with these issues and how problems can be countered by using existing and new means. As an expert from academia,Read More →

On October 22, 2019, Dr. Nitin Agarwal presented his research “Exploring Deviant Hacker Networks On Social Media Platforms” during the Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity session of The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) annual meeting in Seattle, WA.   The study, co-authored by COSMOS-alumni Dr. Samer Al-khateeb, focuses on malicious activities of hacker groups on social media. The authors call these groups Deviant Hacker Networks (DHNs). To gain a better understanding of DHNs and how they communicate with each other, the authors studied the connection between different DHNs on Twitter.  The goal was to identify their key actors: which actors were well-connected, whichRead More →

Doctoral student Zachary Stine’s article “Characterizing the Language‑Production Dynamics of Social Media Users” was accepted for publication by Springer’s Social Network Analysis and Mining (SNAM) on September 28, 2019. The article, co-authored by Dr. Nitin Agarwal, was published online on October 3. Abstract:  In this paper, we propose a characterization of social media users based on language usage over time in order to make more rigorous the notions of organic and inorganic online behavior. This characterization describes the extent to which a user’s word usage within a particular time period subverts expectations based on preceding time periods. To do this, we adapt the use ofRead More →

On Friday, September 27th, doctoral candidate Adewale Obadimu successfully defended his PhD proposal, “Assessing the Role of Social Media Platforms in the Propagation of Toxicity.”  Obadimu defined toxicity as any “rude, disrespectful, or unreasonable comment that is likely to make people leave a discussion.” He argued that users who exhibit this toxic behavior will become worse over time, and that anyone could potentially display this type of behavior online.  His research aims to answer specific questions: Are toxic users clustered/segregated in an online discussion? Is toxicity contagious? Can we leverage toxic signals for predictions? To begin his research, Obadimu focused on a sample of userRead More →

On Friday, September 20th, doctoral candidate Kiran Kumar Bandeli presented his ongoing research on computational narrative analysis on blogs and social media at the EIT Colloquium.  “Blogs in particular act as virtual spaces where narratives are framed. It is therefore important to study and understand the way information is said by the actors on social media platforms,” Bandeli explained. Narratives are organized, long-lasting themes and ideas that persist in discourses. It is challenging to extract narratives from social media, and even more so to interpret them. However, developing a more effective way to study these narratives carries great implications, paving the way for strategic communicationRead More →

On Monday, September 23, participants of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program made a stop at UA Little Rock. Individuals from seven different countries spent the morning speaking with members of the COSMOS team to learn about the broad range of research taking place, particularly regarding social cyber security and misinformation on social media. The countries represented include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Montenegro, Romania, and Tajikistan. Delegates learned about tools COSMOS Cosmographers have developed in order to study disinformation on social media platforms. Blogtrackers is a tool designed by Dr. Nitin Agarwal in 2009 to to track and analyze blogs and gainRead More →

Ph.D. student Kiran Kumar Bandeli has been invited to speak about “Computational Narrative Analysis on Blogs/Social Media.” The colloquium will be held in the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) Building, Room 217 at 3:00pm CST. You can attend in person or utilize the link below to view the presentation from any device with online access: https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/72ac95525d524120812cd25254122fbb Abstract of Talk: Social media is widely used to express views and share opinions with others. With the availability of inexpensive and ubiquitous mass communication tools like social media, creating narratives, false information and propaganda is both convenient and effective. Social media users leverage this platformRead More →