Meysam Alizadeh

Postdoctoral Research Associat

Foreign Influence Operations on Social Media: An Overview of Academic Research

  Halls department, Hall 4
  Thursday, 27 December 2018
  14:00 - 15:00


Foreign influence efforts on democratic elections are undermining confidence in governments around the world and may have shaped outcomes from Britain to France to the United States. Since 2014 at least 65 distinct influence campaigns have targeted 18 different democracies. Research on this campaigns (and legal actions by various governments) reveal a great deal about how these campaigns have been carried out but tell us much less about whether foreign influence campaigns can meaningfully shift political behavior. This talk will summarize what the research tells us, where there are key gaps, and what our group at Princeton is working on.


Computational social scientist Mesysam Alizadeh has been harnessing the wealth of network and human social data available through social media platforms to understand the roots and spread of extremist ideology. In recent projects during his Ph.D. at George Mason University and postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University Bloomington, Alizadeh has explored the moral and emotional factors underlying political extremism. He is also studying how extremism spreads on social media by analyzing the information sharing behavior of political extremists on Twitter. Currently, Meysam is a postdoctoral research associate at the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project at Princeton University and is studying foreign influence efforts on democratic elections. In this project, advised by Professor Jacob Shapiro, Meysam is using publicly available verified data sets of foreign online influence operations to train classifiers that can identify suspicious activities on social media.