Muhammad Nihal Hussain successfully defended his doctoral dissertation.

Muhammad Nihal Hussain successfully defended his doctoral dissertation “Role of Multiple Social Media Platforms in Online Campaigns.”  His committee consisted of Dr. Nitin Agarwal (chair), Dr. Samer Al-khateeb, Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Dr. John Talburt, and Dr. Ningning Wu. 

Hussain studied cross-media information dissemination, in which content posted on one platform is shared to another to boost visibility. During his time at COSMOS, he has analyzed information operations campaigns conducted against NATO exercises. Throughout these campaigns, information actors utilized several platforms to disseminate content. 

“Most researchers focus on one platform to study disinformation, but dissemination strategies have evolved,” Hussain said. “Multiple social media platforms are used in coordination to maximize disinformation diffusion.”

The studies conducted at COSMOS helped him develop his dissertation research, which aimed to answer whether multi-platforms help in information dissemination. Hussain focused on Twitter and YouTube as he tried to determine if the sharing of a video on Twitter increases the video’s viewership and find a way to measure this impact.

To answer these questions, he collected data related to the FIFA 2018 World Cup from Twitter and YouTube.  The data from Twitter was based on two hashtags and 16 official accounts related to the World Cup. Any YouTube links embedded in the collected tweets were extracted and added to the YouTube data collection. In addition, the data from two official YouTube channels were collected through YouTupe API. 

Through the daily collection of data, Hussain was able to compute the rate of change in a video’s daily viewership. The goal was to determine whether sharing a video on Twitter would have an impact on the video views.

For his research, Hussain analyzed 254 YouTube videos that were shared on Twitter. Using the YouTube API, he recorded the video views five days before and five days after the video link was shared on Twitter. The results showed a clear impact of cross-media dissemination. 99.6% of the videos (253 out of 254) experienced an increase in views after they were shared on Twitter.  

For future research, Hussain is suggesting normalizing the impact, considering number of shares in analysis and conducting similar studies on other platforms.