New tools to study and prevent online mass manipulation

Spring 2022 GPOD Grant Recipient

Hudson Golino (Psychology) and Mariana Teles (Psychology)

Manipulation of information or fabrication of false and incorrect information shared via social media and online platforms has severe societal consequences, from distrust in democratic institutions and low compliance with health-related behaviors to eliciting conflict between groups with opposing political views. The use of (mis/dis)information, social media, and online platforms to manipulate individuals and groups represents a significant problem that has been growing in recent years. Online mass manipulation campaigns generally employ communication strategies with emotional tones as a way to spread (mis)information more quickly and make them stick. In this proposal, we are seeking to combine quantitative and computational methods with behavioral science and cognitive psychology to tackle what is considered one of the most challenging and pressing issues for democratic societies around the world. In this project, we will develop and test new intervention tools to decrease beliefs in and susceptibility to mis/disinformation, combining cognitive psychology, network science, and quantitative methods. We will also develop a new R package to analyze emotions in texts from social media.