Savvas Zannettou

Savvas Zannettou

Address
Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik
Saarland Informatics Campus
Campus E1 4
66123 Saarbrücken
Location
E1 4 - 504
Phone
+49 681 9325 3524
Fax
+49 681 9325 5719

Personal Information

I was born in Larnaca, Cyprus. I spent most of my life in Cyprus, however, during my studies, I travelled to several locations in Europe and the USA. In my free time I try to get out of the Silver division in League of Legends (mainly playing at the top lane with Jax), I like to watch various sports including Football (or soccer as my American friends call it), Basketball, and Tennis. Also, I regularly shitpost online, with my colleagues, and generate some high quality memes for fun/trolling. Furthermore, I lurk various Web communities including 4chan’s /pol/.

Publications

2019
Zannettou, Z., Caulfield, T., Bradlyn, B., De Cristofaro, E., Stringhini, G., & Blackburn, J. (2019). Characterizing the Use of Images in State-Sponsored Information Warfare Operations by Russian Trolls on Twitter. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1901.05997
(arXiv: 1901.05997)
Abstract
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 images and memes, along with textual content, in order to increase the engagement and the credibility of their posts. In this paper, we present the first study of images shared by state-sponsored accounts by analyzing a ground truth dataset of 1.8M images posted to Twitter by accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency. First, we analyze the content of the images as well as their posting activity. Then, using Hawkes Processes, we quantify their influence on popular Web communities like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan's Politically Incorrect board (/pol/), and Gab, with respect to the dissemination of images. We find that the extensive image posting activity of Russian trolls coincides with real-world events (e.g., the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville), and shed light on their targets as well as the content disseminated via images. Finally, we show that the trolls were more effective in disseminating politics-related imagery than other images.
Export
BibTeX
@online{Zannettou_arXIv1901.05997, TITLE = {Characterizing the Use of Images in State-Sponsored Information Warfare Operations by {R}ussian {Tr}olls on Twitter}, AUTHOR = {Zannettou, Zavvas and Caulfield, Tristan and Bradlyn, Barry and De Cristofaro, Emiliano and Stringhini, Gianluca and Blackburn, Jeremy}, LANGUAGE = {eng}, URL = {http://arxiv.org/abs/1901.05997}, EPRINT = {1901.05997}, EPRINTTYPE = {arXiv}, YEAR = {2019}, MARGINALMARK = {$\bullet$}, ABSTRACT = {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 images and memes, along with textual content, in order to increase the engagement and the credibility of their posts. In this paper, we present the first study of images shared by state-sponsored accounts by analyzing a ground truth dataset of 1.8M images posted to Twitter by accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency. First, we analyze the content of the images as well as their posting activity. Then, using Hawkes Processes, we quantify their influence on popular Web communities like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan's Politically Incorrect board (/pol/), and Gab, with respect to the dissemination of images. We find that the extensive image posting activity of Russian trolls coincides with real-world events (e.g., the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville), and shed light on their targets as well as the content disseminated via images. Finally, we show that the trolls were more effective in disseminating politics-related imagery than other images.}, }
Endnote
%0 Report %A Zannettou, Zavvas %A Caulfield, Tristan %A Bradlyn, Barry %A De Cristofaro, Emiliano %A Stringhini, Gianluca %A Blackburn, Jeremy %+ Internet Architecture, MPI for Informatics, Max Planck Society External Organizations External Organizations External Organizations External Organizations External Organizations %T Characterizing the Use of Images in State-Sponsored Information Warfare Operations by Russian Trolls on Twitter : %G eng %U http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-767F-9 %U http://arxiv.org/abs/1901.05997 %D 2019 %X 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 images and memes, along with textual content, in order to increase the engagement and the credibility of their posts. In this paper, we present the first study of images shared by state-sponsored accounts by analyzing a ground truth dataset of 1.8M images posted to Twitter by accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency. First, we analyze the content of the images as well as their posting activity. Then, using Hawkes Processes, we quantify their influence on popular Web communities like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan's Politically Incorrect board (/pol/), and Gab, with respect to the dissemination of images. We find that the extensive image posting activity of Russian trolls coincides with real-world events (e.g., the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville), and shed light on their targets as well as the content disseminated via images. Finally, we show that the trolls were more effective in disseminating politics-related imagery than other images. %K cs.SI,Computer Science, Computers and Society, cs.CY

Previous publications

For an up-to-date full list of my publications please check my Google Scholar page

Research Interests

Overall, my research focuses on applying machine learning and data-driven quantitative analysis to understand emerging phenomena on the Web such as the spread of false information and hateful rhetorics. My research has been published at top-tier conferences such as ICWSM and ACM IMC. My co-authors and I have received best/distinguished paper awards at ACM IMC 2018 and CyberSafety 2019.

Teachings

Recent Positions

December 2019 -now:
Postdoctoral Researcher at Max Planck Institute (Saarbrucken)

 

August 2018 - February 2019:
Visiting Scholar at University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

January 2018 - July 2018:
Research Intern at Telefonica Research (Barcelona)

 

July 2014 - December 2014:
Research Intern at NEC Labs Europe (Heidelberg)

Education

PhD in Computer Science, 2019:
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
Advisor: Michael Sirivianos
Dissertation: Towards Understanding the Information Ecosystem Through the Lens of Multiple Web Communities

 

MSc in Computer Science, 2016:
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus

 

BSc in Computer Science, 2014:
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus