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.