Malicious Content Exploits Path Ways between Online Platforms

A new study led by GW researchers demonstrates how harmful content spreads through the online “hate multiverse” across popular platforms.

GW Today
June 16, 2021

Malicious COVID-19 online content—including racist messages, disinformation and misinformation—thrives and spreads online by bypassing the moderation efforts of individual social media platforms, according to a new research study led by George Washington University Professor of Physics Neil Johnson and published in the journal Scientific Reports.

By mapping online hate clusters across six major social media platforms, Dr. Johnson and a team of researchers revealed how malicious content exploits pathways between platforms, highlighting the need for social media companies to rethink and adjust their content moderation policies.

The research team set out to understand how and why malicious content thrives so well online despite significant moderation efforts, and how it can be stopped. They used a combination of machine learning and network data science to investigate how online hate communities wielded COVID-19 as a weapon and used current events to draw in new followers.

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