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Human-AI Collaboration Investigating Social Media Disinformation

Principal Investigator: 
Kurt Luther, associate professor, computer science, Virginia Tech

Co-Principal Investigators: 
Aaron Brantly, assistant professor, political science; David Hicks, professor, education; both Virginia Tech

Project Description: 
Open Source Intelligence investigation — the collection and analysis of publicly available information sources, such as social media, for investigative purposes — is a powerful method for combating disinformation and misinformation. However, this investigation technique is typically a manual, time-consuming process, overwhelming investigators with a fire hose of online disinformation. Crowdsourcing, with its ability to massively parallelize data analysis and provide access to highly specialized knowledge, has the potential to assist the disinformation investigation. Researchers will build a pipeline where an expert investigator leverages AI-assisted tools to narrow the search, enlists crowdsourcing to refine the shortlist, and reviews and confirms the results. Inspired by the model of volunteer fire departments, the researchers will organize and evaluate a series of collaborative capture-the-flag events where teams build and deploy new AI-assisted tools to discover and analyze disinformation campaigns. The goal is to provide scalable support for local, state, and federal authorities in fighting disinformation and misinformation.