Agarwal Guest Edits Special Magazine Issue Highlighting Cyber Social Health Research

Faculty Excellence nominee Nitin Agarwal. Photo by Ben Krain.

Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor of Information Science, has served as a guest editor for a special issue of IEEE Internet Computing magazine on cyber social health.

The special issue on cyber social health highlights developments social media analytics used to gain a better understanding of online human behavior. Research in social media analytics has seen significant development of new and advanced techniques.

In the special issue “When the Bad is Good and the Good is Bad: Understanding Cyber Social Health Through Online Behavioral Change,” Agarwal and his co-editors, Drs. Ugur Kursuncu, Hemant Purohit, and Amit Sheth, introduced a conceptual design that demonstrates modeling at cognitive, neural, and social levels for cumulative measurements in prediction, explainability, and mitigation of misinformation.

“In spite of significant progress in technologies to fight negative uses of social media, it has been challenging to detect, monitor, counter and overcome the malevolent behaviors and use by ill-intentioned actors,” the authors wrote in the article.

The researchers described thick data modeling and its utility to understand the content, its flow in a network, the trust and provenance factors, and the diffusion of harmful content. Several studies and examples of malicious online information campaigns are highlighted to stress the urgent need for advanced social media analysis techniques. Of note, a bi-lateral research approach with COSMOS and the State of Arkansas Attorney General’s Office highlighted COVID-19 misinformation, resulting in a rich database that is live and updated constantly to warn Arkansas residents of scams and misinformation surrounding the coronavirus.

“The collaboration serves as a much needed model for bridging science and policy through technology to combat misinformation,” Agarwal said.

In addition, research of botnet evolution in propaganda dissemination and disinformation campaign coordination showcases the contributions of COSMOS researchers that provide a cornerstone for the conceptual design.

This special issue presents several relevant studies addressing computational techniques from natural language processing, statistics, network science, data mining, machine learning, computational linguistics, human-computer interaction, and cognitive science. Overall, misinformation is now routinely opposed or confronted due to the overall emphasis on new research being produced amongst academia, which provides the new foundation for skepticism for target audiences amongst the many platforms that exist. 

Due to the popularity of the research topic, this is a two-part special issue. The second part of the special issue is slated to appear in the March-April 2021 issue of IEEE Internet Computing magazine.

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