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Power Projection and Subversion via Malign Influence Campaigns

PI: Scott Atran, University of Oxford

Year selected for award: 2019

Power Projection and Subversion via Malign Influence Campaigns on Social Media: Comparing Effects of Cognitive Biases and Cultural Values on Information Operations by Russia And China

Principal Investigators: Scott Atran, University of Oxford

Years of Award: 2021-2023

Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research

Project Description: 
State-sponsored hostile influence campaigns are instruments of national power that focus on use of social media to injuriously mislead or falsely report information in order to drive wedges within and between the populations of its adversaries, most notably the U.S. and its allies. Malign campaigns exploit psychological biases and political vulnerabilities in the socio-cultural landscape of nations, and among transnational and substate actors, which has already led to new ways of resisting, reinforcing and remaking political authority and alliances. We address the issues through an innovative link between proprietary machine learning and multilingual text analysis, marrying AI and other advanced computational techniques with detailed social science analysis of context-sensitive human psychology and cultural belief systems.  Our research will test the effectiveness of Chinese I/O campaigns to divide populations within and between OAS countries, to drive those populations against the Western Alliance, and to move them towards pro-Russia positions.