Savvas Zannettou

Savvas Zannettou
Delft University of Technology | TU · Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management

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67
Publications
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Publications

Publications (67)
Preprint
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Internet memes have become a dominant method of communication; at the same time, however, they are also increasingly being used to advocate extremism and foster derogatory beliefs. Nonetheless, we do not have a firm understanding as to which perceptual aspects of memes cause this phenomenon. In this work, we assess the efficacy of current state-of-...
Preprint
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, health-related misinformation and harmful content shared online had a significant adverse effect on society. To mitigate this adverse effect, mainstream social media platforms employed soft moderation interventions (i.e., warning labels) on potentially harmful posts. Despite the recent popularity of these moderation in...
Preprint
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The spread of hate speech and hateful imagery on the Web is a significant problem that needs to be mitigated to improve our Web experience. This work contributes to research efforts to detect and understand hateful content on the Web by undertaking a multimodal analysis of Antisemitism and Islamophobia on 4chan's /pol/ using OpenAI's CLIP. This lar...
Conference Paper
The QAnon conspiracy theory claims that a cabal of (literally) blood-thirsty politicians and media personalities are engaged in a war to destroy society. By interpreting cryptic “drops” of information from an anonymous insider calling themself Q, adherents of the conspiracy theory believe that Donald Trump is leading them in an active fight against...
Preprint
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Growing evidence points to recurring influence campaigns on social media, often sponsored by state actors aiming to manipulate public opinion on sensitive political topics. Typically, campaigns are performed through instrumented accounts, known as troll accounts; despite their prominence, however, little work has been done to detect these accounts...
Preprint
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This paper presents a multi-platform computational pipeline geared to identify social media posts discussing (known) conspiracy theories. We use 189 conspiracy claims collected by Snopes, and find 66k posts and 277k comments on Reddit, and 379k tweets discussing them. Then, we study how conspiracies are discussed on different Web communities and wh...
Preprint
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Recent research suggests that not all fact checking efforts are equal: when and what is fact checked plays a pivotal role in effectively correcting misconceptions. In this paper, we propose a framework to study fact checking efforts using Google Trends, a signal that captures search interest over topics on the world's largest search engine. Our fra...
Preprint
This paper presents the first data-driven analysis of Gettr, a new social network platform launched by former US President Donald Trump's team. Among other things, we find that users on the platform heavily discuss politics, with a focus on the Trump campaign in the US and Bolsonaro's in Brazil. Activity on the platform has steadily been decreasing...
Article
With large social media platforms coming under increasing pressure to deplatform far-right users, the Alternative Technology movement (Alt-Tech) emerged as a new digital support infrastructure for the far right. We conduct a qualitative analysis of the prominent Alt-Tech platform Gab, a social networking service primarily modelled on Twitter, to as...
Conference Paper
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Aiming to enhance the safety of their users, social media platforms enforce terms of service by performing active moderation, including removing content or suspending users. Nevertheless, we do not have a clear understanding of how effective it is, ultimately, to suspend users who engage in toxic behavior, as that might actually draw users to alter...
Preprint
QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that became popular and mainstream over the past few years. Worryingly, the QAnon conspiracy theory has implications in the real world, with supporters of the theory participating in real-world violent acts like the US capitol attack in 2021. At the same time, the QAnon theory started evolving into a global ph...
Conference Paper
We present a large-scale characterization of the Manosphere, a conglomerate of Web-based misogynist movements focused on men's issues, which has prospered online. Analyzing 28.8M posts from 6 forums and 51 subreddits, we paint a comprehensive picture of its evolution across the Web, showing the links between its different communities over the years...
Preprint
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YouTube is by far the largest host of user-generated video content worldwide. Alas, the platform also hosts inappropriate, toxic, and hateful content. One community that has often been linked to sharing and publishing hateful and misogynistic content is the so-called Involuntary Celibates (Incels), a loosely defined movement ostensibly focusing on...
Conference Paper
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Online fringe communities offer fertile grounds to users seeking and sharing ideas fueling suspicion of mainstream news and conspiracy theories. Among these, the QAnon conspiracy theory emerged in 2017 on 4chan, broadly supporting the idea that powerful politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities are closely engaged in a global pedophile ring. Simult...
Preprint
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The role played by YouTube's recommendation algorithm in unwittingly promoting misinformation and conspiracy theories is not entirely understood. Yet, this can have dire real-world consequences, especially when pseudoscientific content is promoted to users at critical times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we set out to characterize a...
Preprint
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The news ecosystem has become increasingly complex, encompassing a wide range of sources with varying levels of trustworthiness, and with public commentary giving different spins to the same stories. In this paper, we present a multi-platform measurement of this ecosystem. We compile a list of 1,073 news websites and extract posts from four Web com...
Preprint
Full-text available
The QAnon conspiracy theory claims that a cabal of (literally) bloodthirsty politicians and media personalities are engaged in a war to destroy society. By interpreting cryptic "drops" of information from an anonymous insider calling themselves Q, adherents of the conspiracy theory believe that they are being led by Donald Trump in an active fight...
Preprint
Over the past few years, there is a heated debate and serious public concerns regarding online content moderation, censorship, and the basic principle of free speech on the Web. To ease some of these concerns, mainstream social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook refined their content moderation systems to support soft moderation intervention...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the increasingly important role played by image memes, we do not yet have a solid understanding of the elements that might make a meme go viral on social media. In this paper, we investigate what visual elements distinguish image memes that are highly viral on social media from those that do not get re-shared, across three dimensions: compo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Parler is as an alternative social network promoting itself as a service that allows its users to "Speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being deplatformed for your views." Because of this promise, the platform become popular among users who were suspended on mainstream social networks for violating their terms of service, as we...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Despite the influence that image-based communication has on online discourse, the role played by images in disinformation is still not well understood. In this paper, we present the first large-scale study of fauxtography, analyzing the use of manipulated or misleading images in news discussion on online communities. First, we develop a computation...
Conference Paper
Parler is as an ``alternative'' social network promoting itself as a service that allows to ``speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being deplatformed for your views.'' Because of this promise, the platform become popular among users who were suspended on mainstream social networks for violating their terms of service, as well a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Online messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Discord, each with hundreds of millions of users, are one of the dominant modes of communicating or interacting with one another. Despite the widespread use of public group chats, there exists no systematic or detailed characterization of these group chats. There is, more importantly, lack...
Preprint
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When toxic online communities on mainstream platforms face moderation measures, such as bans, they may migrate to other platforms with laxer policies or set up their own dedicated website. Previous work suggests that, within mainstream platforms, community-level moderation is effective in mitigating the harm caused by the moderated communities. It...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the influence that image-based communication has on online discourse, the role played by images in disinformation is still not well understood. In this paper, we present the first large-scale study of fauxtography, analyzing the use of manipulated or misleading images in news discussion on online communities. First, we develop a computation...
Preprint
Full-text available
Online fringe communities offer fertile grounds for users to seek and share paranoid ideas fueling suspicion of mainstream news, and outright conspiracy theories. Among these, the QAnon conspiracy theory has emerged in 2017 on 4chan, broadly supporting the idea that powerful politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities are closely engaged in a global...
Article
Full-text available
Recent progress in genomics has enabled the emergence of a flourishing market for direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing. Companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA provide affordable health, genealogy, and ancestry reports, and have already tested tens of millions of customers. Consequently, news, experiences, and views on genetic testing are increa...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper presents a dataset with over 3.3M threads and 134.5M posts from the Politically Incorrect board (/pol/) of the imageboard forum 4chan, posted over a period of almost 3.5 years (June 2016-November 2019). To the best of our knowledge, this represents the largest publicly available 4chan dataset, providing the community with an archive of p...
Conference Paper
Progress in genomics has enabled the emergence of a booming market for “direct-to-consumer” genetic testing. Nowadays, companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA provide affordable health, genealogy, and ancestry reports, and have already tested tens of millions of customers. At the same time, alt- and far-right groups have also taken an interest in ge...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
State-sponsored organizations are increasingly linked to efforts aimed to exploit social media for information warfare and manipulating public opinion. Typically, their activities rely on a number of social network accounts they control, aka trolls, that post and interact with other users disguised as “regular” users. These accounts often use image...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Web has become the main source for news acquisition. At the same time, news discussion has become more social: users can post comments on news articles or discuss news articles on other platforms like Reddit. These features empower and enable discussions among the users; however, they also act as the medium for the dissemination of toxic discou...
Preprint
Full-text available
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in unprecedented ways. In the face of the projected catastrophic consequences, many countries have enacted social distancing measures in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Under these conditions, the Web has become an indispensable medium for information acquisition, communicatio...
Preprint
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Social media data has become crucial to the advancement of scientific understanding. However, even though it has become ubiquitous, just collecting large-scale social media data involves a high degree of engineering skill set and computational resources. In fact, research is often times gated by data engineering problems that must be overcome befor...
Preprint
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Messaging platforms, especially those with a mobile focus, have become increasingly ubiquitous in society. These mobile messaging platforms can have deceivingly large user bases, and in addition to being a way for people to stay in touch, are often used to organize social movements, as well as a place for extremists and other ne'er-do-well to congr...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper presents a dataset with over 3.3M threads and 134.5M posts from the Politically Incorrect board (/pol/) of the imageboard forum 4chan, posted over a period of almost 3.5 years (June 2016-November 2019). To the best of our knowledge, this represents the largest publicly available 4chan dataset, providing the community with an archive of p...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this paper, we present a large-scale characterization of the Manosphere, a conglomerate of Web-based misogynist movements roughly focused on "men's issues," which has seen significant growth over the past years. We do so by gathering and analyzing 28.8M posts from 6 forums and 51 subreddits. Overall, we paint a comprehensive picture of the evolu...
Article
Current authentication methods on the Web have serious weaknesses. First, services heavily rely on the traditional password paradigm, which diminishes the end-users' security and usability. Second, the lack of attribute-based authentication does not allow anonymity-preserving access to services. Third, users have multiple online accounts that often...
Preprint
The Web consists of numerous Web communities, news sources, and services, which are often exploited by various entities for the dissemination of false information. Yet, we lack tools and techniques to effectively track the propagation of information across the multiple diverse communities, and to model the interplay and influence between them. Also...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Recent evidence has emerged linking coordinated campaigns by state-sponsored actors to manipulate public opinion on the Web. Campaigns revolving around major political events are enacted via mission-focused ?trolls." While trolls are involved in spreading disinformation on social media, there is little understanding of how they operate, what type o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Over the past couple of years, anecdotal evidence has emerged linking coordinated campaigns by state-sponsored actors with efforts to manipulate public opinion on the Web, often around major political events, through dedicated accounts, or “trolls.” Although they are often involved in spreading disinformation on social media, there is little unders...
Preprint
Full-text available
Rapid progress in genomics has enabled a thriving market for ``direct-to-consumer'' genetic testing, whereby people have access to their genetic information without the involvement of a healthcare provider. Companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA, which provide affordable health, genealogy, and ancestry reports, have already tested tens of millions...
Preprint
Full-text available
A large number of the most-subscribed YouTube channels target children of very young age. Hundreds of toddler-oriented channels on YouTube feature inoffensive, well produced, and educational videos. Unfortunately, inappropriate content that targets this demographic is also common. YouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system regrettably suggests ina...
Preprint
Full-text available
Anecdotal evidence has emerged suggesting that state-sponsored organizations, like the Russian Internet Research Agency, have exploited mainstream social. Their primary goal is apparently to conduct information warfare operations to manipulate public opinion using accounts disguised as "normal" people. To increase engagement and credibility of thei...
Preprint
Full-text available
Current authentication methods on the Web have serious weaknesses. First, services heavily rely on the traditional password paradigm, which diminishes the end-users' security and usability. Second, the lack of attribute-based authentication does not allow anonymity-preserving access to services. Third, users have multiple online accounts that ofte...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over the past few years, extensive anecdotal evidence emerged that suggests the involvement of state-sponsored actors (or "trolls") in online political campaigns with the goal to manipulate public opinion and sow discord. Recently, Twitter and Reddit released ground truth data about Russian and Iranian state-sponsored actors that were active on the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Internet memes are increasingly used to sway and manipulate public opinion. This prompts the need to study their propagation, evolution, and influence across the Web. In this paper, we detect and measure the propagation of memes across multiple Web communities, using a processing pipeline based on perceptual hashing and clustering techniques, and a...
Preprint
Full-text available
A new wave of growing antisemitism, driven by fringe Web communities, is an increasingly worrying presence in the socio-political realm. The ubiquitous and global nature of the Web has provided tools used by these groups to spread their ideology to the rest of the Internet. Although the study of antisemitism and hate is not new, the scale and rate...
Preprint
Full-text available
Internet memes are increasingly used to sway and manipulate public opinion. This prompts the need to study their propagation, evolution, and influence across the Web. In this paper, we detect and measure the propagation of memes across multiple Web communities, using a processing pipeline based on perceptual hashing and clustering techniques, and a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Over the past few years, a number of new "fringe" communities, like 4chan or certain subreddits, have gained traction on the Web at a rapid pace. However, more often than not, little is known about how they evolve or what kind of activities they attract, despite recent research has shown that they influence how false information reaches mainstream...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Over the past few years, a number of new "fringe" communities, like 4chan or certain subreddits, have gained traction on the Web at a rapid pace. However, more often than not, little is known about how they evolve or what kind of activities they attract, despite recent research has shown that they influence how false information reaches mainstream...
Preprint
Full-text available
A new era of Information Warfare has arrived. Various actors, including state-sponsored ones, are weaponizing information on Online Social Networks to run false information campaigns with targeted manipulation of public opinion on specific topics. These false information campaigns can have dire consequences to the public: mutating their opinions an...