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News | July 21, 2021

Minerva-funded researchers new article on how extremists and hate groups exploited Covid-19 misinformation in 2020

By Rhys Leahy and Neil Johnson

This article shows that malicious COVID-19 content, including racism, disinformation, and misinformation, exploits the multiverse of online hate to spread quickly beyond the control of any individual social media platform. Minerva-funded researchers provide a first mapping of the online hate network across six major social media platforms. They demonstrate how malicious content can travel across this network in ways that subvert platform moderation efforts. Machine learning topic analysis shows quantitatively how online hate communities are sharpening COVID-19 as a weapon, with topics evolving rapidly and content becoming increasingly coherent. Based on mathematical modeling, we provide predictions of how changes to content moderation policies can slow the spread of malicious content.

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Associated Minerva-funded project: Total War: Multi-Agent Network Theory of Connective Action in a Cross-Domain Coupled World