Stefano Cresci

Stefano Cresci
Italian National Research Council | CNR

PhD in Information Engineering from the University of Pisa

About

105
Publications
53,578
Reads
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2,784
Citations
Citations since 2016
89 Research Items
2716 Citations
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Introduction
Stefano received his PhD in Information Engineering from the University of Pisa in 2018. Currently, he is a Researcher at IIT-CNR in Pisa, Italy. He is Professor of "Big Data Sources, Crowdsourcing, Crowdsensing" for the PhD course in Data Science and for the post-graduate Master's degree in Big Data Analytics & Social Mining, at the University of Pisa. His professional experiences encompass both national and international collaborations with renowned research institutions and enterprises such as Hamad Bin Khalifa University (Doha, Qatar), Nokia Bell Labs (Paris, France). He is a member of the Editorial Board of IJISCRAM and in 2018, he was selected among the winners of the SAGE Ocean Concept Grant. His interests broadly fall at the intersection of Web science and Data science.
Additional affiliations
September 2015 - present
Alcatel Lucent
Position
  • Intern

Publications

Publications (105)
Article
Full-text available
The advent of social media changed the way we consume content, favoring a disintermediated access to, and production of information. This scenario has been matter of critical discussion about its impact on society, magnified in the case of the Arab Springs or heavily criticized during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. elections. In this work we explore info...
Article
Online social networks convey rich information about geospatial facets of reality. However in most cases, geographic information is not explicit and structured, thus preventing its exploitation in real-time applications. We address this limitation by introducing a novel geoparsing and geotagging technique called Geo-Semantic-Parsing (GSP). GSP iden...
Preprint
Full-text available
The subreddit r/The_Donald was repeatedly denounced as a toxic and misbehaving online community, reasons for which it faced a sequence of increasingly constraining moderation interventions by Reddit administrators. It was quarantined in June 2019, restricted in February 2020, and finally banned in June 2020, but despite precursory work on the matte...
Article
The rise of bots and their influence on social networks is a hot topic that has aroused the interest of many researchers. Despite the efforts to detect social bots, it is still difficult to distinguish them from legitimate users. Here, we propose a simple yet effective semi-supervised method that allows distinguishing between bots and legitimate us...
Article
Online financial content is widespread on social media, especially on Twitter. The possibility to access open, real-time data about stock market information and firms’ public reputation can bring competitive advantages to industry insiders. However, as many studies extensively demonstrated before, manipulative campaigns by social bots do not spare...
Article
The subreddit r/The_Donald was repeatedly denounced as a toxic and misbehaving online community, reasons for which it faced a sequence of moderation interventions by Reddit administrators. It was quarantined in June 2019, restricted in February 2020, and finally banned in June 2020, but despite precursory work on the matter, the effects of this seq...
Chapter
Today, implications of automation in social media, specifically whether social bots can be used to manipulate people’s thoughts and behaviors are discussed. Some believe that social bots are simple tools that amplify human-created content, while others claim that social bots do not exist at all and that the research surrounding them is a conspiracy...
Preprint
Full-text available
Online social networks are actively involved in the removal of malicious social bots due to their role in the spread of low quality information. However, most of the existing bot detectors are supervised classifiers incapable of capturing the evolving behavior of sophisticated bots. Here we propose MulBot, an unsupervised bot detector based on mult...
Preprint
Full-text available
Evaluating the effects of moderation interventions is a task of paramount importance, as it allows assessing the success of content moderation processes. So far, intervention effects have been almost solely evaluated at the aggregated platform or community levels. Here, we carry out a multidimensional evaluation of the user level effects of the seq...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID‐19 pandemic coincided with an equally‐threatening scamdemic: a global epidemic of scams and frauds. The unprecedented cybersecurity concerns emerged during the pandemic sparked a torrent of research to investigate cyber‐attacks and to propose solutions and countermeasures. Within the scamdemic, phishing was by far the most frequent type o...
Article
It has become apparent that human accounts are not the sole actors in the social media scenario. The expanding role of social media in the consumption and diffusion of information has been accompanied by attempts to influence public opinion. Researchers reported several instances where social bots, automated accounts designed to impersonate humans,...
Article
We explore the effects of coordinated users (i.e., users characterized by an unexpected, suspicious, or exceptional similarity) in information spreading on Twitter by quantifying the efficacy of their tactics in deceiving feed algorithms to maximize information outreach. In particular, we investigate the behavior of coordinated accounts within a la...
Preprint
Full-text available
Current online moderation follows a one-size-fits-all approach, where each intervention is applied in the same way to all users. This naive approach is challenged by established socio-behavioral theories and by recent empirical results that showed the limited effectiveness of such interventions. We propose a paradigm-shift in online moderation by m...
Preprint
Full-text available
The metaverse promises a host of bright opportunities for business, economics, and society. Though, a number of critical aspects are still to be considered and the analysis of their impact is almost non-existent. In this paper, we provide several contributions. We start by analysing the foundations of the metaverse, later we focus on the novel priv...
Preprint
Predicting the political leaning of social media users is an increasingly popular task, given its usefulness for electoral forecasts, opinion dynamics models and for studying the political dimension of polarization and disinformation. Here, we propose a novel unsupervised technique for learning fine-grained political leaning from the textual conten...
Article
Predicting the political leaning of social media users is an increasingly popular task, given its usefulness for electoral forecasts, opinion dynamics models and for studying the political dimension of polarization and disinformation. Here, we propose a novel unsupervised technique for learning fine-grained political leaning from the textual conten...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The metaverse promises a host of bright opportunities for business, economics, and society. Though, a number of critical aspects are still to be considered and the analysis of their impact is almost non-existent. In this paper, we provide several contributions. We start by analysing the foundations of the metaverse, later we focus on the novel priv...
Article
Adversarial examples are inputs to a machine learning system that result in an incorrect output from that system. Attacks launched through this type of input can cause severe consequences: for example, in the field of image recognition, a stop signal can be misclassified as a speed limit indication. However, adversarial examples also represent the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Adversarial examples are inputs to a machine learning system that result in an incorrect output from that system. Attacks launched through this type of input can cause severe consequences: for example, in the field of image recognition, a stop signal can be misclassified as a speed limit indication.However, adversarial examples also represent the f...
Preprint
Full-text available
Large-scale manipulations on social media have two important characteristics: (i) use of \textit{propaganda} to influence others, and (ii) adoption of coordinated behavior to spread it and to amplify its impact. Despite the connection between them, these two characteristics have so far been considered in isolation. Here we aim to bridge this gap. I...
Article
Full-text available
Coordinated online behaviors are an essential part of information and influence operations, as they allow a more effective disinformation's spread. Most studies on coordinated behaviors involved manual investigations, and the few existing computational approaches make bold assumptions or oversimplify the problem to make it tractable. Here, we propo...
Article
Full-text available
Computational social science uses computational and statistical methods in order to evaluate social interaction. The public availability of data sets is thus a necessary precondition for reliable and replicable research. These data allow researchers to benchmark the computational methods they develop, test the generalizability of their findings, an...
Article
Full-text available
Social bots are automated accounts often involved in unethical or illegal activities. Academia has shown how these accounts evolve over time, becoming increasingly smart at hiding their true nature by disguising themselves as genuine accounts. If they evade, bots hunters adapt their solutions to find them: the cat and mouse game. Inspired by advers...
Article
Full-text available
The exponential increase in the availability of large-scale mobility data has fueled the vision of smart cities that will transform our lives. The truth is that we have just scratched the surface of the research challenges that should be tackled in order to make this vision a reality. Consequently, there is an increasing interest among different re...
Article
Full-text available
Well-being is an important value for people’s lives, and it could be considered as an index of societal progress. Researchers have suggested two main approaches for the overall measurement of well-being, the objective and the subjective well-being. Both approaches, as well as their relevant dimensions, have been traditionally captured with surveys....
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of fake news, propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation online. While initially this was mostly about textual content, over time images and videos gained popularity, as they are much easier to consume, attract much more attention, and spread further than simple text. As a result, researchers starte...
Chapter
Full-text available
The fast-paced technological advancements of the last decades have led to digitizing an ever-increasing amount of information, processes, and activities. A wide range of new digital devices have made our lives easier, faster, and funnier, quickly becoming indispensable for both work and daily life. As a result, the digital realm has dramatically ex...
Chapter
Full-text available
Technology has, to different degrees, always been part of the financial world, starting from the 1950s with the introduction of credit cards and ATMs, passing through electronic trading floors and personal finance apps, until present days where technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), High-Frequency Trading (HFT), and cryptocurrencies are...
Chapter
Full-text available
The rise of new technologies, including Online Social Network (OSN)s, media sharing services, online discussion boards, and online instant messaging applications, make information production and propagation increasingly fast.
Chapter
Full-text available
If the economy is the backbone of a country, business entities define and affect its movements. Those entities produce business that, with the provision of goods, services, and jobs, is confirmed as one of the key pillars of the nation. Business, among the other things, defines the direction in which the nation is moving toward the world economy. T...
Chapter
Full-text available
A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to serve as a medium of exchange that should be an alternative to the classic fiat currency. The idea of bringing money from the physical to the digital realm has been investigated since the 1980s, with many attempts to create digital cash systems. Over the years, several researchers have tried to implem...
Chapter
Full-text available
Since the dawn of Humanity, the progress machine tirelessly introduced tools and resources that facilitated our everyday tasks. Over the years, new technologies have continually changed society with novel discoveries and inventions that proved capable of greatly improving human life. Historically, many of the processes that radically changed human...
Chapter
Full-text available
Critical Infrastructure represents an umbrella term used by governments to group all those resources that are essential for the economic, financial, and social system of a country. The Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, issued by the President of the United States in 2013, advances a national...
Book
Full-text available
This book revises the strategic objectives of Information Warfare, interpreting them according to the modern canons of information age, focusing on the fabric of society, the economy, and critical Infrastructures. The authors build plausible detailed real-world scenarios for each entity, showing the related possible threats from the Information War...
Article
Full-text available
This article investigates the relation between festivals and their destination cities. We examine what festival attendees think about the festival experience and the host city, and how the online image of the host city is shaped through the dissemination of these opinions on Twitter. We conduct a case study and analyze the opinions about a big scal...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic represented an unprecedented setting for the spread of online misinformation, manipulation, and abuse, with the potential to cause dramatic real-world consequences. The aim of this special issue was to collect contributions investigating issues such as the emergence of infodemics, misinformation, conspiracy theories, automatio...
Article
Full-text available
On the morning of November 9th 2016, the world woke up to the shocking outcome of the US Presidential elections: Donald Trump was the 45th President of the United States of America. An unexpected event that still has tremendous consequences all over the world. Today, we know that a minority of social bots – automated social media accounts mimicking...
Article
Full-text available
Background Risk communication is essential for risk management, especially during alarming events, in order to create a balanced risk perception. The tweets follow up can be useful to timely evidence “media storms” or “infodemics” thus suggesting corrective interventions. The spread of Covid-19 has been the occasion to observe the evolution of twee...
Preprint
Full-text available
Coordinated online behaviors are an important part of information and influence operations, as they allow a more effective disinformation's spread. Most studies on coordinated behaviors involved manual investigations and the few existing computational approaches make bold assumptions or oversimplify the problem to make it tractable. Here, we propos...
Preprint
Full-text available
Propaganda campaigns aim at influencing people's mindset with the purpose of advancing a specific agenda. They exploit the anonymity of the Internet, the micro-profiling ability of social networks, and the ease of automatically creating and managing coordinated networks of accounts, to reach millions of social network users with persuasive messages...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Propaganda campaigns aim at influencing people's mindset with the purpose of advancing a specific agenda. They exploit the anonymity of the Internet, the micro-profiling ability of social networks, and the ease of automatically creating and managing coordinated networks of accounts, to reach millions of social network users with persuasive messages...
Chapter
Full-text available
Despite the existence of several studies on the characteristics and role of social bots in spreading disinformation related to politics, health, science and education, financial social bots remain a largely unexplored topic. We aim to shed light on this issue by investigating the activities of large social botnets in Twitter, involved in discussion...
Article
People involved in mass emergencies increasingly publish information-rich contents in online social networks (OSNs), thus acting as a distributed and resilient network of human sensors. In this work we present HERMES, a system designed to enrich the information spontaneously disclosed by OSN users in the aftermath of disasters. HERMES leverages a m...
Preprint
On the morning of November 9th 2016, the world woke up to the shocking outcome of the US Presidential elections: Donald Trump was the 45th President of the United States of America. An unexpected event that still has tremendous consequences all over the world. Today, we know that a minority of social bots, automated social media accounts mimicking...
Article
Full-text available
Cryptocurrencies represent one of the most attractive markets for financial speculation. As a consequence, they have attracted unprecedented attention on social media. Besides genuine discussions and legitimate investment initiatives, several deceptive activities have flourished. In this work, we chart the online cryptocurrency landscape across mul...
Article
Full-text available
Social media posts incorporate real-time information that has, elsewhere, been exploited to predict social trends. This paper considers whether such information can be useful in relation to crime and fear of crime. A large number of tweets were collected from the 18 largest Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, over a period of 70 days. Thes...
Chapter
Recently, studies on the characterization and detection of social bots were published at an impressive rate. By looking back at over ten years of research and experimentation on social bots detection, in this paper we aim at understanding past, present, and future research trends in this crucial field. In doing so, we discuss about one of the nasti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cryptocurrencies represent one of the most attractive markets for financial speculation. As a consequence, they have attracted unprecedented attention on social media. Besides genuine discussions and legitimate investment initiatives, several deceptive activities have flourished. In this work, we chart the online cryptocurrency landscape across mul...
Preprint
Full-text available
People involved in mass emergencies increasingly publish information-rich contents in online social networks (OSNs), thus acting as a distributed and resilient network of human sensors. In this work, we present HERMES, a system designed to enrich the information spontaneously disclosed by OSN users in the aftermath of disasters. HERMES leverages a...
Preprint
Full-text available
The advent of social media changed the way we consume content favoring a disintermediated access and production. This scenario has been matter of critical discussion about its impact on society. Magnified in the case of Arab Spring or heavily criticized in the Brexit and 2016 U.S. elections. In this work we explore information consumption on Twitte...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Distance metrics between statistical distributions are widely used as an efficient mean to aggregate/simplify the underlying probabilities, thus enabling high-level analyses. In this paper we investigate the collisions that can arise with such metrics, and a mitigation technique rooted on kernels. In detail, we first show that the existence of coll...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Recently, studies on the characterization and detection of social bots were published at an impressive rate. By looking back at over ten years of research and experimentation on social bots detection, in this paper we aim at understanding past, present, and future research trends in this crucial field. In doing so, we discuss about one of the nasti...
Article
DNA-inspired online behavioral modeling techniques have been proposed and successfully applied to a broad range of tasks. In this paper, we investigate the fundamental laws that drive the occurrence of behavioral similarities among Twitter users, employing a DNA-inspired technique. Our findings are multifold. First, we demonstrate that, despite app...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Within OSNs, many of our supposedly online friends may instead be fake accounts called social bots, part of large groups that purposely re-share targeted content. Here, we study retweeting behaviors on Twitter, with the ultimate goal of detecting retweeting social bots.We collect a dataset of 10M retweets. We design a novel visualization that we le...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The arm race between spambots and spambot-detectors is made of several cycles (or generations): a new wave of spambots is created (and new spam is spread), new spambot filters are derived and old spambots mutate (or evolve) to new species. Recently, with the diffusion of the adversarial learning approach, a new practice is emerging: to manipulate o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this work, we tackled the problem of the automatic classification of the extremist propaganda on Twitter, focusing on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). We built and published several datasets, obtained by mixing 15,684 ISIS propaganda tweets with a variable number of neutral tweets, related to ISIS, and random ones, accounting for im...
Preprint
Full-text available
The arm race between spambots and spambot-detectors is made of several cycles (or generations): a new wave of spambots is created (and new spam is spread), new spambot filters are derived and old spambots mutate (or evolve) to new species. Recently, with the diffusion of the adversarial learning approach, a new practice is emerging: to manipulate o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
I dati presenti sugli Online Social Networks rappresentano una miniera di informazioni per la Cyber Security e per la Cyber Intelligence, se opportunamente analizzati con tecniche allo stato dell'arte. Da anni il gruppo WAFI-CI porta avanti attività di ricerca all'avanguardia su queste tematiche, ricoprendo anche ruoli di responsabilità in progetti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Within OSNs, many of our supposedly online friends may instead be fake accounts called social bots, part of large groups that purposely re-share targeted content. Here, we study retweeting behaviors on Twitter, with the ultimate goal of detecting retweeting social bots. We collect a dataset of 10M retweets. We design a novel visualization that we l...
Chapter
Full-text available
SoBigData is a Research Infrastructure (RI) aiming to provide an integrated ecosystem for ethic-sensitive scientific discoveries and advanced applications of social data mining. A key milestone of the project focuses on data, methods and results sharing, in order to ensure the reproducibility, review and re-use of scientific works. For this reason,...
Article
Since decades, genetic algorithms have been used as an effective heuristic to solve optimization problems. However, in order to be applied, genetic algorithms may require a string-based genetic encoding of information, which severely limited their applicability when dealing with online accounts. Remarkably, a behavioral modeling technique inspired...