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Comparing hidden propaganda campaigns worldwide: The manipulation of political Twitter discussions in South Korea, United States, Iran, Venezuela, Germany, and Russia (HonKong, DAAD)


This project focuses on astroturfing, centrally coordinated disinformation campaigns in which participants pretend to be ordinary citizens acting independently. In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the public has become aware of astroturfing’s potential to impact electoral outcomes and other forms of political behavior. But the Internet Research Agency (IRA) in control of the infamous “Russian trolls” was not the first actor to attempt to influence public opinion by astroturfing on social media. As documented in our previous research, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) had used similar strategies trying to sway public opinion in a South Korean presidential election as early as 2012. Since October 2018, Twitter has released datasets of different astroturfing campaigns worldwide, containing the tweets by and information on the accounts involved in those campaigns. In this project we will use these data sets to expand our detection approach to more recent astroturfing campaigns in different regions of the world.


2020-01-01 – 2021-12-31