March 11 2021, 13:21 pm

Report Reveals Social Media Manipulations Prevalent In Over 80 Countries

Oxford University’s Inter­net Insti­tute (OII) is report­ing that accord­ing to a new OII sur­vey, orga­nized social media manip­u­la­tion cam­paigns are being pro­duced on an indus­tri­al scale by major gov­ern­ments, pub­lic rela­tions firms, and polit­i­cal par­ties in over 80 coun­tries. Accord­ing to the OII press release:

Jan­u­ary 13, 2021 The manip­u­la­tion of pub­lic opin­ion through social media remains a grow­ing threat to democ­ra­cies around the world, accord­ing to the 2020 media manip­u­la­tion sur­vey from the Oxford Inter­net Insti­tute, part of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oxford.The report reveals that orga­nized social media manip­u­la­tion cam­paigns oper­ate in 81 coun­tries, up from 70 coun­tries in 2019, with glob­al mis­in­for­ma­tion being pro­duced on an indus­tri­al scale by major gov­ern­ments, pub­lic rela­tions firms and polit­i­cal par­ties. It describes how dis­in­for­ma­tion has become a com­mon strat­e­gy of cyber manip­u­la­tion, with more than 76 of the 81 coun­tries deploy­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion as part of polit­i­cal communication. […]

Key find­ings of the Oxford report include:

  • Pri­vate ‘strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions’ firms are play­ing an increas­ing role in spread­ing com­pu­ta­tion­al pro­pa­gan­da, with researchers iden­ti­fy­ing state actors work­ing with such firms in 48 countries.
  • Almost $60 mil­lion has been spent on firms who use bots and oth­er ampli­fi­ca­tion strate­gies to cre­ate the impres­sion of trend­ing polit­i­cal messaging.
  • Social media has become a major bat­tle­ground, with firms such as Face­book and Twit­ter tak­ing steps to com­bat ‘cyber troops,’ while some $10 mil­lion has been spent on social media polit­i­cal adver­tise­ments. The plat­forms removed more than 317,000 accounts and pages from ‘cyber troops’ actors between Jan­u­ary 2019 and Novem­ber 2020.

Click here to access the full report.

Past GIOR report­ing on social media manip­u­la­tion by state actors includes:

  • In Jan­u­ary 2021, we rec­om­mend­ed an exten­sive report on China’s use of infor­ma­tion manipulation.
  • In the same month, we report­ed on Russ­ian efforts to spread COVID-relat­ed disinformation.
  • In Novem­ber 2020, we report­ed that intel­li­gence offi­cials have con­clud­ed that Rus­sia may be shift­ing the vehi­cle for its influ­ence oper­a­tions from the use of so-called troll farms and fake social media accounts to state-backed media.
  • In Octo­ber 2020, we report­ed that Face­book removed a net­work of accounts tied to the Russ­ian Inter­net Research Agency crit­i­cal of Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Joe Biden.
  • In the same month, we report­ed on a U.S. DHS analy­sis sug­gest­ing Iran­ian online influ­ence actors were try­ing to shift respon­si­bil­i­ty for the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic to the Unit­ed States and oth­er West­ern nations.


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