Each Friday, the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology Colloquium provides a forum for the presentation of research followed by a question and answer session with the guest speaker(s). This past Friday, COSMOS researchers Adewale Obadimu and Thomas Marcoux discussed ‘Social Media Analysis for Defeating Disinformation’.

Cosmographers Adewale Obadimu and Thomas Marcoux discussed “Social Media Analysis for Defeating Disinformation” at the EIT Colloquium on Friday, February 8, 2019.

Doctoral candidate Adewale Obadimu introduced the Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies to the audience in the room and online.  This particular Colloquium appeared to have had one of the highest online and in person attendances in sometime, with the interest of the topic driving participation. Adewale’s knowledge in machine learning and deep learning techniques has assisted him in not only understanding influence campaigns, but also developing Blogtrackers.  This socio-computational tool has been designed to track, monitor, and understand blogs, bloggers and real-time world events.

Adewale  demonstrated the capabilities of the tool.  He showed how users can extract insights, such as key  influencers of the blogosphere. “The purpose of Blogtrackers is to let users understand the trends and narratives that are going on in the blogs,” he explains. 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 exercises.

Thomas Marcoux introduces YouTubeTracker.

Another emerging tool is YouTubeTracker, a tool that can track, monitor, and identify influential YouTube groups and content. Computer and Information Science Ph.D. student Thomas Marcoux is the lead developer of YouTubeTracker and specializes in the research and development of web-based behavioral studies tools.  He discussed YouTubeTracker and how this tool can be used to gain insights into content engagement behaviors of individuals via likes, dislikes, comments, replies, shares, etc. Through visual analytics, YouTubeTracker can help identify trends, opinions, communities, anomalous behaviors such as bots, spam, trolls, among other capabilities. Users can visualize networks among YouTubers, commenters, and content.

Research and development of these tools have been funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), U.S. Air Force Research Lab, U.S. Army Research Office, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Jerry L. Maulden/Entergy Fund at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Arkansas Research Alliance.

After showcasing the Blogtrackers and YouTubeTrackers, the cosmographers answered questions about the impact of their work.  With these tools and research, COSMOS is able to identify malicious actors on social media.

Another Cosmographer has been invited as a Colloquium guest speaker. On Friday, March 3, Ph.D. student Zachary Stine has been invited to speak about “Natural Language Processing for the Analysis of Legislative Change”. The colloquium will be held in the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT) Building, Room 217 at 3:00pm CST.  ou can attend in person or utilize the link below to view the presentation from any device with online access: https://us.bbcollab.com/guest/dcbf62d8929143a198f8e9e2ee48f74d

Written by Katrin Galeano