Search Mastery Speaker Series: M3I – Maps, Models, and Metrics for Influence in Conflict Zones

Event Start Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 11:00 am

Event End Date: Thursday, September 28, 2023 - 12:00 pm

Location: Virtual / Zoom EST


Audiences tend to be more vulnerable to influence and manipulation during times of unrest and disaster, and this talk covers social media’s role in influencing audiences in conflict zones. In particular, we examine how state (e.g., China, Russia) and non-state actors (e.g., the Taliban) use these spaces during crises to influence perceptions in the space. We will describe a digital forensics and ethnographic approach to map online spaces during conflict, so we can establish baselines of information behavior that we then use to identify emerging influence spaces. Repurposing evaluations of multi-platform content moderation methods, we then describe metrics of influence impact and how audiences respond as conflicts evolve. These maps, models, and metrics will be integrated into threat models to support allocating defensive resources to protect the most vulnerable audiences.


Dr. Cody Buntain, Assistant Professor (INFO College)


Dr. Buntain studies online information and social media and how we use these spaces during crises and times of political unrest. His focus is on information quality, preventing manipulation, and enhancing resilience. Recent work also integrates multi-modality into these studies, examining how images are used in online political discourse and influence efforts. Other studies include the role of recommendation systems as a method of content moderation and its effects across multiple online spaces, as well as the impact of deplatforming on information and engagement quality online. Dr. Buntain’s research has been covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, WIRED, and others.


Speaker(s): Dr. Cody Buntain