Information Warfare: Trolling, Misinformation, and Bias

social media intelligence smi aware

The latest news cycle involving social media relates to Facebook and the mid-term elections in the U.S. Facebook announced on Tuesday that it identified pages and accounts created by internet trolls and bots to spread misinformation campaigns on social media platforms. This information is relevant to legal professionals as it showcases the relevancy of social media intelligence and its impact in today’s world.

In addition to this announcement, Twitter has announced that it has purged millions of fake accounts from its platform and will continue to do so in the upcoming months, in response to new European Union internet privacy regulations. According to CNN, “Twitter has focused on safeguarding the service in recent months amid scrutiny of its role in spreading fake news and election meddling as well as the broader data privacy backlash hitting the tech industry.”

It is undeniable that there are good and bad agents around the globe that understand and leverage social media with both noble and destructive ambitions. Moreover, these recent events expose how the undeniable power of the web and social platforms have attracted a lot of attention and investment from the international intelligence community long before it became part of our lives.
In contradiction, it exposes the challenges large corporations face in identifying malicious activities in their platforms. Facebook identified and deleted 32 accounts suspected of being driven by bad agents, but that is a drop in the bucket when you consider that Facebook has 2.5 billion accounts worldwide. The challenge they face is to identify suspicious patterns of activity that raise the flag on trolling attacks.

Comparably, the U.S. legal system has also seen the increasing impact of social media in their activities. More and more we see news of law enforcement and legal professionals utilizing social media and the web as a source of evidence. The difference is that, for legal purposes, intelligence professionals can conduct searches at the user level. Utilizing trade craft, they can easily identify fake accounts, aliases and also authenticate content as well as account ownership.

Social media intelligence thus becomes an essential piece of what legal professionals need to consider when counseling their clients and conducting their cases. However, when we talk about trolls, bots, fake news, and manipulation campaigns, we can’t help but think about ethics. For legal professionals and fraud detection experts to leverage the power of social media in an ethical manner, it is necessary to dig deeper into this discipline.

The billions of pieces of content found on the social web are up for grabs, but the rules of evidence for web collection are constantly evolving. Can I friend a subject? Will a screenshot be defensible in court? Can the subject know if I’ve been viewing their account information?

To eliminate the risk of unknowingly conducting unethical behaviors during the discovery and collection process of social media evidence that may jeopardize your case, we recommend that you rely on the experts. At SMI Aware, social media intelligence analysts conduct deep and complex searches on the subjects of your case following a strict code of ethics and with the trade craft that allows them to find information that the average person cannot.

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Joshua Janow

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