The following news features cite commentary and/or research from Network Contagion Research Institute:
Republican Congressman to Right-Wing misinformers & conspiracy theorists: I’m going after them.
Retiring Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman has had it with the conspiracy theories and misinformers. He says he is going after them.
Virginia gubernatorial candidate says ‘Trump should declare martial law’
Virginia Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase, an outspoken Trump supporter and gubernatorial hopeful, doubled down on disputed voter fraud claims and said Thursday that her state needs an election audit – through martial law, if necessary.
How QAnon’s lies are hijacking the national conversation
It started with a Tweet from a QAnon supporter at 2:09 in the morning: #SubpoenaObama.
Though devoid of context, the cryptic message made sense to anyone in tune with the groundless conspiracy theory that the Obama administration — prior to leaving office in 2017 — had taken active measures to undermine the incoming Trump presidency. Within a minute, the same Twitter account sent another tweet encouraging others to push the hashtag, adding that if they do, “good things will happen.”
Online anti-Semitism peaks during moments of national tension. And it’s being partly driven by Russian trolls.
Soon after the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Twitter user going by the name “jojoh888” knew who was to blame for the clashes between neo-Nazis and the antifa activists who opposed them: George Soros, the Jewish billionaire and progressive philanthropist.
“George Soros is the puppet master. He’s funding both sides,” the account tweeted, echoing a false claim expressed frequently by far-right activists.
“jojoh888” was a Russian troll controlled by Vladimir Putin’s government that was suspended in 2018 in an effort to root out disinformation from Twitter.
Republican lawmaker likens Trump vote-fraud crusade to the search for Bigfoot
It was only recently that U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., had his epiphany: The supporters of President Trump were starting to resemble the people who he used to hang out with more than 15 years ago when — mostly as a lark — he would go on expeditions to the Pacific Northwest looking for Bigfoot.
GOP Rep. Unloads on Team Trump’s Election Conspiracies: Cooking Up a ‘Fantasy’ Involving Venezuela and the DOJ
Outgoing congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA) is one of the few Republicans not only acknowledging that Joe Biden won the election, but calling out people in his party pushing election conspiracies — including President Donald Trump and those around him.
In a recent interview Riggleman unloaded on fellow Republicans refusing to publicly acknowledge reality, saying, “I’m so damn sick of it.”
What hunting Bigfoot taught a Republican congressman about politics
There was a time in Denver Riggleman’s life when he sat on the banks of a creek that reeked of dead fish and peered through night-vision goggles into the thick of the Olympic National Forest. He was looking for Bigfoot.
Or at least, others in his group were. Riggleman, a nonbeliever who was then a National Security Agency defense contractor, had come along for the ride, paying thousands of dollars in 2004 to indulge a lifelong fascination: Why do people — what kind of people — believe in Bigfoot?
Now in one of his last acts as a Republican congressman from Virginia, Riggleman is asking the same questions of supporters of QAnon and deniers of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Will there be an American insurgency?
David Kilcullen, one of the world’s leading counterinsurgency theorists, recently posed the question of whether the United States is on the precipice of an insurgency. The answer remains unclear, but it is important to review the facts and the means of preventing an American insurgency from occurring.
Claiming Censorship, Conservatives Head to Alternative Social Media Sites Post-Election
It started with President Trump and his supporters posting misinformation disputing the legitimacy of the election. Among other things, Twitter applied warning labels to the president’s tweets and permanently suspended an account belonging to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Facebook decided to remove the #StoptheSteal campaign altogether.
Now, what was a trickle of high-profile conservatives creating accounts on relatively unknown platforms like Parler, Gab and MeWe has become a flood. In recent weeks, Parler, a Twitter-like app that touts its commitment to free speech (a stance often viewed as code for welcoming far-right viewpoints), claims its membership doubled from 4 million to 8 million users.
Even if We Dump Donald Trump, These Forces Will Continue to Strangle America
Each of us has been a journalist for more than 40 years. We are old enough to remember the racism of George Wallace, the crimes of Richard Nixon, and the stupidity that squandered vast amounts of blood and treasure in Vietnam and Iraq. But nothing prepared us for the wholesale criminality of this administration, or a president for whom “cruelty is the point,” in Adam Serwer’s memorable phrase.
Not since the Civil War has the nation suffered such prolonged, vicious, and effective assaults on all the mechanisms that have given the republic a pulse for 244 years. In just a few days we will learn if there is enough strength left in our democracy’s arteries to allow its revival.
How QAnon uses satanic rhetoric to set up a narrative of “good vs. evil”
In front of a TV audience on Oct. 15, President Donald Trump declared that he knew “nothing about” QAnon, before correcting himself to say: “I do know they are very much against pedophilia.”
What he didn’t do was disavow what has been referred to as a “collective delusion.” Part of that could be down to QAnon followers holding up Trump as some sort of savior — someone playing four-dimensional chess against shadowy political insiders and power players known as the “Deep State.”
Here Are a Few of the Peer-Reviewed Reports, Published by Members of the NCRI Leadership Team:
“A Quantitative Approach to Understanding Online Antisemitism”
by Joel Finkelstein, Savvas Zannettou, Barry Bradlyn, Jeremy Blackburn.
A new wave of growing antisemitism, driven by fringe Web communities, is an increasingly worrying presence in the socio-political realm. The ubiquitous and global nature of the Web has provided tools used by these groups to spread their ideology to the rest of the Internet. Although the study of antisemitism and hate is not new, the scale and rate of change of online data has impacted the efficacy of traditional approaches to measure and understand this worrying trend. In this paper, we present a large-scale, quantitative study of online antisemitism.
“On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities.” (2018)
by Savvas Zannettou, Tristan Caulfield, Jeremy Blackburn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Michael Sirivianos, Gianluca Stringhini, Guillermo Suarez-Tangil. In Proceedings of the ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), 2018 (Distinguished Paper Award).
Internet memes are increasingly used to sway and manipulate public opinion. This prompts the need to study their propagation, evolution, and influence across the Web. In this paper, we detect and measure the propagation of memes across multiple Web communities, using a processing pipeline based on perceptual hashing and clustering techniques, and a dataset of 160M images from 2.6B posts gathered from Twitter, Reddit, 4chan’s Politically Incorrect board (/pol/), and Gab, over the course of 13 months.
“What is Gab? A Bastion of Free Speech or an Alt-Right Echo Chamber?” (2018)
Savvas Zannettou, Barry Bradlyn, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Michael Sirivianos, Gianluca Stringhini, Haewoon Kwak, Jeremy Blackburn. In Proceedings of the WWW Companion, 2018.
Over the past few years, a number of new “fringe” communities, like 4chan or certain subreddits, have gained traction on the Web at a rapid pace. However, more often than not, little is known about how they evolve or what kind of activities they attract, despite recent research has shown that they influence how false information reaches mainstream communities.