Monitoring Russian Online Information Operations: An OssaLabs Case Study

Report No. ARL-TR-8732
Authors: Timur Chabuk, Adam Jonas, and Sue Kase
Date/Pages: June 2019; 23 pages
Abstract: Full-spectrum information operations (IO) involve coordinated action across a diverse set of communication media ranging from cyber-attacks, to press releases, to sponsored advertisements in magazines. Social media is one particularly important medium that offers unprecedented opportunity for IO to reach large-scale numbers of people. Russian IO are using social media to great success against the US and its allies. These operations have created public confusion and discord domestically while preparing the battlefield for more traditional maneuvers in US Army areas of interest. This report introduces a new technology for monitoring social media for IO. The OssaLabs platform allows analysts to scan large swathes of social media space to discover key narratives, identify important actors, and track ongoing IO. The major features of the OssaLabs social media monitoring platform are described. Then, a case study is presented in which the OssaLabs platform was used to monitor social media space in the Baltic region, where Russia is believed to be conducting intensive IO. We conclude with a discussion of key findings from the case study and identify important directions for future technology development.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: June 1, 2019