In the midst of the Israel-Palestine conflicts of May 2021, unverified screenshots are characterized, amplified, and spread by user-generated sources.

by Mitch Chaiet and Emily Berk

The difference between peer-to-peer messaging (tweet) versus top-down distribution (What’s Happening)

In America, the classic AM Radio model to profitability is quite simple — scare a bunch of boomers with baseless claims, and they will engage with your radio show. The more people you have listening, the higher number your audience count is. You can use that number to convince advertisers to pay you — the more people listening, the more people who will listen to an ad, the more you get paid.

If you are in middle America, listening to a radio show, it is very hard to verify claims about the north or…

On Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 the US Capitol Building was stormed by a large, violent mob of angry people. Social media users made quick attempts at identifying these individuals as imagery, memes, and screenshots poured into the open web. The same collection of images was picked up by opposing factions, and contextualized through editing to present differing information.

An image of two men from the Capitol was edited and contextualized in two differing ways. The image was initially paired with a screenshot of two men from, …

Sponsored ads appear on Facebook feeds hundreds of thousands of times a day. They are an integral part of the Facebook experience.

One of the most common Facebook ad formats is a called a carousel, a swipeable album of 3–5 photos presented along with a click-through link, which usually leads to the advertisers’ website. This format has long been exclusive to Sponsored Facebook posts.

Interestingly, meme pages on Facebook have begun to weaponize the carousel format in order to create monetized click farms for YouTube video views, spam links, and other nefarious sponsored content.

Generally, when a Facebook user clicks on a viral video, the Facebook app will load that single clip into a full screen video player with other viral videos appearing when scrolling below, like so:

An increasing number of Facebook meme pages have begun to weaponize the carousel format, by including a website which loads when a viral video is tapped for viewing. …

co-authored with Emily S Berk and Jonah Isaac

Pennsylvania is a battleground state in the US 2020 Presidential election, and voting processes in the area are ripe for targeting by disinformation campaigns. Strategic amplification of screenshots and other imagery allow groups of loosely-coordinated accounts to bypass content moderation systems, and quickly surface false narratives used to spread disinformation.

A screenshot of an Instagram story from @omg_seabass claims that while working as a poll worker in Pennsylvania, he threw out over a hundred ballots. The screenshot was shared on Twitter, and amplified by verified accounts. …

The amount of compression present within an image is indicative of the amount it’s been shared within a given community.

An image of a satirical check claiming protesters have been funded by various political organizations has circulated widely. By analyzing the compression of each place the image has been posted, we can measure how widely it’s been shared up until a particular point. Compression analysis can “fingerprint” versions of the same image, and provide a “geology” for where the image was taken from, and where it was propagated to.

The check spread to in-group communities where it was viewed as satirical, and out-group communities which contextualized the image as true. The meme originated from the following in-group, satirical Reddit post.

Reddit’s quarantined /r/FULLCOMMUNISM (Original, Archive, Image)

Disclaimer: Please do not send Bitcoin to any of the addresses listed in this article. You will be funding scammers and will not receive your money back.

Twitter was the subject of a major breach on July 15, 2020, which disrupted the service

Scammers promoted a bitcoin address to thousands of people by breaching into and tweeting from major accounts, including @BarackObama and @Uber

Screenshots of the scam tweets continue to circulate the scammer’s bitcoin address after the original tweets have been deleted

Twitter was the subject of a widespread bitcoin scam affecting many major, verified users of the platform…

Tweets promoting a damaging narrative used subversive audience segmentation techniques to further spread the conspiracy theory

1. Online furniture retailer Wayfair was the subject of a damaging conspiracy theory amplified between July 10–14, 2020, which Reuters determined to be false

2. Use of the Twitter hashtag #wayfarer instead of #wayfair indicates subversive audience segmentation associated with inauthentic behavior

3. Human amplification of the narrative spread the conspiracy across platforms, while an inauthentic attempt at amplification was less effective

A widespread conspiracy theory targeting online furniture retailer Wayfair was amplified between July 10–14, 2020. The narrative claims the retailer is a…

co-authored with Ben Cook, digital radicalization expert:

In this screenshot, a user shares instructions and tips for evading identification when posting digitally about the riots — using an image initially created during past anarchist riots in Europe. Memes in the comments provide additional information for rioters to prevent geolocation via cell phone towers and other surveillance devices used by law enforcement.

Throughout the past month, peaceful democratic gatherings have been co-opted, online and offline, by extremists leveraging violence, destruction and disinformation in efforts to amplify polarization and hate. These manipulative, non-monolithic groups — including white-supremacists posing as Antifa and anarchists pushing for wanton destruction — are seeking to divide and destroy our ability to peacefully protest from within.

The ongoing unrest across U.S. cities stems from legitimate protest, but extremist groups are working to co-opt tensions and inflame polarization through online manipulation. …

A photo claiming to be of a “small crowd” from President Donald Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally was widely circulated on social media between June 19 and 20, 2020.

The night before President Donald Trump’s planned 2020 kickoff rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a photo circulated the internet facetiously claiming “small crowds” were already congregating outside the arena.

Campaign manager Brad Parscale was delighted at the effectiveness of the recruitment effort for the event. He declared that more than 800,000 people had reserved tickets to the Trump rally, individuals all eager to enter the 22,000 person venue. The mental image of such a large swath of supporters seemed viable.

However, the photo circulating of the rally crowd wasn’t taken in Oklahoma, nor was it even taken in 2020. The photo…

memetic influence

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