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 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 →

On Friday, August 30th, doctoral student Zachary Stine presented research from an ongoing comparative study regarding online religious communities.  Stine and fellow researchers Dr. Nitin Agarwal and Dr. James Deitrick, used Reddit to try to understand the differences and similarities between the religious cultures Buddhism and Christianity by analyzing their discussion text for specific lexicons on a more structural level.   Stine described using topic modeling  in order to look at how both communities discuss certain topics. Buddhist and Christian communities were chosen simply because they had the largest amount of discussion text available. The researchers anticipated possible problems with this study, particularly the issue ofRead More →

As a graduate researcher, there is no shortage of unexpected experiences. Shishila Awung Shimray, Anol Kanti Roy, Abdullah Al Faysal and Richard Young along with the help of other Cosmographers recently had the opportunity to participate in this year’s EIT High School Summer Research Program. As the name suggests, this program is targeted towards highly motivated group of high school students that all are willing to “sacrifice” three weeks of their summer vacation in exchange for graduate-level experience. Our participation in this program took form by providing both skill-based mentorship and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it takes to be a member of COSMOS. Unfortunately, theRead More →

COSMOS is pleased to announce that its director Dr. Nitin Agarwal has been awarded a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of novel socio-computational methodologies to model emerging cyber-social threats and strengthen social cybersecurity research infrastructure. The funding will support the development of social media cells that assist with information environment assessment in real time and the rapid and appropriate response to the growing weaponization of social media in influencing peace keeping, tactical, operational, and strategic operations. Military units at all levels will benefit from the identification of threats and opportunities within the information environment (IE). Creating well-trained socialRead More →

On Thursday, April 18, students showcased their work at the Student Research and Creative Works Expo and EIT Open House. Guests viewed displays of capstone projects, theses, dissertations, and other research. COSMOS was well-presented by Kiran Kumar Bandeli, Nihal Hussain, Thomas Marcoux, Billy Spann, Richard Young, Michael DiCicco, Tuja Khaund, Karen Watts and Adewale Obadimu who showcased their work. Our team members were presented with numerous awards at the 2019 Student Research and Creative Works Expo Awards Ceremony and the EIT Open House Awards Ceremony: Student Research and Creative Works Expo – First Place: Zachary Stine Student Research and Creative Works Expo – Second Place: TujaRead More →

Ph.D. candidate Adewale (Wale) Obadimu participated in the 2019 CRA URMD Grad Cohort Workshop which took place March 22-23, 2019 in Waikoloa, Hawaii.  The two-day event was hosted by the Computing Research Association (CRA), an organization dedicated to bringing industry, government and academia together to support research and advanced education in computing. This year, the CRA Grad Cohort for Underrepresented Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (URMD) Workshop attracted twice the amount of participants than the inaugural workshop in 2018. CRA covered the travel expenses for all selected students that collectively represent a diverse set of computing-related research areas and institutions. 158 accepted applicants from 78Read More →

COSMOS director and Arkansas Research Alliance fellow Dr. Nitin Agarwal spoke about deviant online behavior at UA Little Rock Downtown on Wednesday, March 13.  This behavior includes, but is not limited to, deviant mobs of the Internet, disinformation campaigns, bots, trolls and computational propaganda techniques. Dr. Agarwal presented examples of how the spread of misinformation online affects the real world from fueling hatred that leads to violence to spreading incorrect medical information that will result in health risks. The spread of “fake news” can also influence voters, create confusion during disasters and cause hysteria of the masses.   Deviant online behavior spreads over many platforms.Read More →

COSMOS research about the evolution of botnets is featured in a seven book set titled “Large Scale Combat Operations” published by the Army University Press. In chapter 10 of the book “Perceptions Are Reality: Historical Case Studies of Information Operations in Large-Scale Combat Operations”, authors Rick Galeano, Katrin Galeano, Dr. Samer Al-khateeb, Dr. Nitin Agarwal, and James Turner examine social media botnets and their evolving behaviors. Through detailed analysis of botnet use in Ukraine and the Baltics, they demonstrate that bots can be used to spread narratives, alter perceptions of viewpoint popularity, and ultimately trigger behavior supportive to military end states. “Over the past fewRead More →

A paper presented by COSMOS director Dr. Nitin Agarwal, and co-authored by Muhammad Nihal Hussain, Kiran Kumar Bandeli, Serpil Tokdemir, and Samer Al-khateeb, has been selected for the best paper award during the eighth international conference on Social Media Technologies, Communication, and Informatics (SOTICS 2018), held in Nice, France, in October 2018. Titled “Understanding Digital Ethnography: Socio-computational Analysis of Trending YouTube Videos,” the paper’s authors have been recognized with the best paper award four years in a row. The paper describes the team’s research on behavioral analysis of YouTube’s digital societies.  The researchers studied the top 200 YouTube videos trending daily for a 40-day period separately in the United States of America (USA) andRead More →