Projects

Blogtrackers
Track and analyze blogs with Blogtrackers to gain insights from the blogosphere.

BlogTrackers: Analyzing Social Media for Cultural Modeling

COSMOS is among the very few universities in the country with a team and projects dedicated to researching blogs.  In 2009, COSMOS Director Dr. Nitin Agarwal developed a program called Blogtrackers, a tool designed to track and analyze blogs and gain insights from the blogosphere. Through Blogtrackers, COSMOS has been actively working on research studies that are supported by grants from the U.S. Office of Naval Research in the fight against cyber propaganda campaigns and tracked how anti-NATO groups reacted to information released during NATO’s exercises. Agarwal and Muhammad Nihal Hussain, a fifth-year doctoral student in information science and a core researcher at COSMOS, also have trained NATO personnel to use Blogtrackers to analyze how false information and fake news stories are spread through social media.

This research project funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), provides decision makers data analytical tools to monitor and track blogosphere. A variety of analytical measures are available for analysts to examine the influential bloggers, sentiments and affects, traffic trends, posting frequency, blog profiles, metadata, blog networks and communities, among others.

Latest about Blogtrackers:

 

Developing Novel Socio-computational Methodologies to Analyze Multimedia-based Cyber Propaganda Campaigns.

In this research, COSMOS is using cyber forensics and deep web search-based methodologies to study the sources of false information on the Internet, how it is spread through social media, and how people and groups strategically use this false information to conduct cyber propaganda campaigns.  Combined with research from previous studies, COSMOS will develop models that can identify key individuals and groups responsible for conducting cyber campaigns and spreading propaganda.

Discussions on social media channels can often spill over to mainstream media, which helps legitimize false information. YouTube, for example, is often used to target teenagers and young people, subjecting them to conspiracy theories, disinformation campaigns, and radical ideologies.

The effects of these cyber campaigns have been seen all over the world, with major transnational crime organizations utilizing social media to recruit, influence, and encourage action. Their tactics are complex and diverse, ranging from publishing fake pictures to hiring armies of “trolls” to spread propaganda on blogs and social media.

This project is funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) under Thrust Code 341 (Award number: N00014-17-1-2605). Program Officer: Dr. Rebecca Goolsby. Total award amount: $1,530,778. Project Period: 06/01/2017 – 01/31/2019.

News Article: Naval Research office awards Nitin Agarwal $1.5 million grant

 

Near Real Time Assessment of Emergent Complex Systems of Confederates

COSMOS is part the Department of Defense (DoD) and Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) which includes the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Carnegie Mellon University, University of South Carolina Columbia, University of Pittsburgh and VoxUkraine, Ukraine.  The work of COSMOS focuses on social media.

DoD Announcement

 

Socio-computational Predictive Methods to Detect and Mitigate Bot Activity in Novel Information Environments

The research project funded by the DARPA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase-2 grant aims to
(i) Develop Model for Detection of Bots’ Coordination Strategies,
(ii) Evaluate Effectiveness of Bots,
(iii) Incorporate Content/Discourse Analysis,
(iv) Conduct cross-media analysis, and
(v) Develop Social Science Theory-driven Algorithms for Detecting Botnets Engaged in Interconnected Propaganda Campaigns.

 

Predictive Modeling of Cyber Flash Mobs: Understanding Emerging Socio-Technical Behaviors for Conflict Monitoring 

The project funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) aims to develop socio-computational models to advance the understanding of the dynamics of various social processes, such as group formation, activation, decentralized decision-making, and collective action underlying deviant Cyber Flash Mob (CFM) behaviors. The study aims to identify measurable signals allowing us to track the evolution of a deviant CFM thereby determining/predicting the CFM behavior trajectory. These signals could act as a “conflict thermometer” to assess the state of the discontent and unrest among the people and design risk-averse strategies to enhance human security for NATO forces, U.S. forces, citizens, and international workers.

 

Analyzing Integrated Social Media-Facilitated Propaganda Campaigns using Social Network Analysis and Cyber Forensics

The project funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) aims to develop capabilities to support U.S. Naval and Military operations to manage and adapt to the information ecology and fill the research gap to better understand the emerging socio-technical behaviors, necessary to support situation awareness, risk assessment, mission assessment, policy design (kinetic or non-kinetic), and for an overall mission effectiveness. Specifically, the proposed research will develop socio-computational models to advance our understanding of cyber campaigns grounded in the dynamics of various social and communication processes, such as group formation, activation, decentralized decision-making, and collective action. Leveraging cyber forensics and deep web search based methodologies; the study will extract relevant Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) from a variety of information sources, in a guided snowball data collection manner. Further, our ONR-funded research will form the basis for developing models to identify key actors and key groups responsible for coordinating cyber campaigns and disseminating propaganda. The developed models will help assess the state of the discontent and unrest among the people and design risk-averse strategies to enhance human security for NATO forces, U.S. forces, citizens, and international aid workers.

 

Large-scale Medical Informatics for Patient Care Coordination and Engagement

The research project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Spokes) program, aims to investigate how to use data from diverse sources, including fitness trackers and environmental monitors, to improve patient care. As its first pilot, the project will focus on African-Americans and Latinos diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

Collaborators: Emory University, Moore School of Medicine, UT-Dallas, West Virginia University, Virginia University, and Georgia Tech, Amazon, Emory Critical Care Center, Cerner, Relus Technologies, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Data-Intensive High-Density Computational Equipment for Research on Monitoring Cyber Warfare Tactics through Social Media
The project funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) under Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) enables acquisition of computational equipment capable of conducting high volume data intensive operations to conduct a rigorous and systematic study analyzing the role of social media in information dissemination and campaign organization. The equipment supports research to provide insights for cyber warfare that leverages the modern social information systems.
A Socio-computational Model for ‘Social Bot’ Detection: Understanding tactical and strategic information maneuvers through social media to advance cyber operations
The research project funded by the U.S. Department of Navy’s (DoN) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase-1 grant models behaviors of social bots on modern information and communication technologies, such as social media (e.g., Twitter).
Collaborators: Intelligent Automation, Inc.


Cyber-collective Movements: Novel Socio-computational Approaches in Studying the Blogosphere

The research project funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Social-Computational Systems (SoCS) Program and Human Centered Computing (HCC) Program studies the role of new media (social media) in mobilization and coordination of cyber social movements from an individual, community, and transnational perspective. Theory of collective action, resource mobilization theory, new social movement theory, social movement spillover theory form the basis of examination with social network analysis driving the methodological aspect of the study.

Collaborators: Rolf T. Wigand and Merlyna Lim.