Detecting early signatures of persuasion in information cascades

UMSI Assistant Professor Qiaozhu Mei is a contributing researcher on a project by Indiana University’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research to study early evidence of persuasion campaigns in online forums. The project, “Detecting Early Signatures of Persuasion in Information Cascades,” is funded by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the federal government.

Start date: 1/18/2012
End date: 1/17/2015

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This grant is made in the context of DARPA’s Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, whose primary goal is “to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base.” The program “seeks to develop tools that support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”

In the first phase, Mei’s research will focus on developing algorithms and software to analyze Twitter micro-blog data sets to identify various types of content features associated with rumors, sarcasm, and changes in attitude. In the second phase, the researcher will study how attitude and sentiment play a role in the effectiveness of a persuasive campaign.

The final phase will integrate the feedback and experimentation results from phase two in order to improve the understanding of content and context in cascades of information and to develop algorithms to help fill in the “missing links” within macro-cascades.

The Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Lab is also collaborating on the program.

For more information about this project, please visit the project website here.


Detecting Early Signatures of Persuasion in Information Cascades, Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA): $2,000,000 (Awarded to collaborative group headed by the University of Indiana)


DARPA is a U.S. Department of Defense agency responsible for the development of new technologies designed for military use. The organization sponsors revolutionary, high-payoff research that bridges the gap between fundamental discoveries and their military use.