State-Linked Misinformation in the Time of Covid-19: A Look at Iran

17 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2023 Last revised: 19 Jun 2023

See all articles by Benjamin Bagozzi

Benjamin Bagozzi

University of Delaware

Rajni Goel

Howard University - School of Business

Karthik Balasubramanian

Howard University School of Business

Chris Parker

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; American University - Kogod School of Business

Date Written: June 1, 2023

Abstract

What drives changes in the thematic focus of state-linked misinformation? We study this question in relation to a long-running Iranian state-linked misinformation campaign that was uncovered by Twitter in 2021. Using a variety of machine learning methods, we uncover and analyze how this campaign's misinformation topical themes changed in relation to rising Covid-19 cases in Iran. By using the topics of the tweets in a novel innovative way, we find that increases in domestic Covid-19 cases engendered a shift in Iran's misinformation focus away from Covid-19 themes and towards economic themes. This underscores (i) the potential for state-linked misinformation campaigns to be used for diversionary purposes and (ii) the promise of machine learning methods for detecting such behaviors.

Keywords: Misinformation, Covid-19, Twitter, Text-as-Data, Topic Modeling

Suggested Citation

Bagozzi, Benjamin and Goel, Rajni and Balasubramanian, Karthik and Parker, Chris, State-Linked Misinformation in the Time of Covid-19: A Look at Iran (June 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4477333 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4477333

Benjamin Bagozzi (Contact Author)

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19711
United States

Rajni Goel

Howard University - School of Business ( email )

Karthik Balasubramanian

Howard University School of Business ( email )

2600 6th St NW
Washington, DC DC 20024
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://profiles.howard.edu/karthik-balasubramanian

Chris Parker

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

American University - Kogod School of Business ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20816-8044
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
45
Abstract Views
258
PlumX Metrics