The success of viral memes, videos and pictures in spreading online disinformation is fueling organized social media manipulation on Instagram and YouTube, said researchers at Oxford University.
In an annual report on disinformation trends, the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Research Project said Facebook remained the most popular platform for social media manipulation due to its size and global reach.
The report’s findings highlight the challenges faced by Facebook, Google and other social media companies in combating the spread of political and financially-motivated disinformation, as tactics and technologies develop and change.
The Oxford University report said that increased awareness of social media manipulation meant such activity had now been identified in 70 countries worldwide, up from 28 in 2017.
“Computational propaganda has become a normal part of the digital public sphere,” the report said. “These techniques will also continue to evolve as new technologies … are poised to fundamentally reshape society and politics.”