Deception strategies and threats for online discussions

Onur Varol, Ismail Uluturk


Communication plays a major role in social systems. Effective communications, which requires the transmission of messages between individuals without disruptions or noise, can be a powerful tool to deliver intended impact. Language and style of content can be leveraged to deceive and manipulate recipients. These deception and persuasion strategies can be applied to exert power and amass capital in politics and business. In this work, we provide a modest review of how such deception and persuasion strategies were applied to different communication channels over time. We provide examples of campaigns that occurred over the last century, together with their corresponding dissemination media. In the Internet age, we enjoy access to a vast amount of information and an ability to communicate without borders. However, malicious actors work toward abusing online systems to disseminate disinformation, disrupt communication, and manipulate individuals, with automated tools such as social bots. It is important to study traditional practices of persuasion in order to investigate modern procedures and tools. We provide a discussion of current threats against society while drawing parallels with historical practices and recent research on systems of detection and prevention.


social media; social bots; fake news; online campaigns

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