Billions of people have become heavily reliant on social media as their primary form of consuming news, and with this comes the increased threat of mis-/dis-/and malinformation (MDM) becoming part of everyday life. Virality of misinformation can spread simply from an aunt who shares fake news stories, to orchestrated foreign influence operations – the threats are real. That’s why data is a core component of the critical work Limbik does for society.
MDM poses increasing reputational, financial, operational, physical, and human risks to companies, individuals, government agencies, and civil society. Two weeks after being alerted by the CIA of impending danger, former FBI agent Ali Soufan became the target of a virulent MDM campaign on social media, which often leaves victims with very little recourse. Frustrated and concerned for his safety, Soufan turned to Limbik to determine the source and potential impact of these dangerous false narratives. Leveraging its core analytics and PFI framework, Limbik traced at least part of the campaign to an official in the Saudi government. The campaign involved some of the same suspects who had targeted Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, Washington Post columnist, and Virginia resident who was murdered by Saudi intelligence agents in October 2018.
Limbik, a Virginia-based predictive analytics firm operating since 2017, has developed a proprietary Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning powered Information Defense System to predict the Potential for Impact (PFI) of MDM narratives and quantify the magnitude of Foreign Influence (FI) as it relates to online information activities. This predictive, believability-based system relies on NetBase Quid® as part of its analysis, particularly in developing probabilistic forecasts, to surface potentially impactful information activities and inform effective mitigation options. Limbik’s core metric, PFI, is becoming the gold standard for identifying and mitigating information threats. Limbik’s proprietary PFI framework helps clients sift through social media and other online information sources at scale, and determine which narratives warrant attention, and more importantly, a response.
While there are documented cases of foreign efforts to discredit or smear the reputation or credibility of a political candidate or party, foreign adversaries predominantly target socially divisive issues to pit Americans against one another and foster distrust in democratic institutions. In addition to the bevy of MDM narratives concerning election infrastructure, a variety of themes have proven particularly polarizing in the lead-up to, and likely during the 2022 midterm elections, including women’s health, gun control, the economy, LGBTQ+ rights, the Second Amendment, public school policies, human trafficking, and racial justice.
“At Limbik we understand that disinformation to one person is ‘truth’ to another. Recognizing this simple fact has led us to consider why MDM is believable and how MDM narratives become viral. Accurately predicting the believability of MDM narratives, as well as the likelihood of eliciting engagement online, combined with Limbik’s Foreign Influence attribution model informs PFI and alerts us to emerging information threats. PFI can be used to help clients decipher what’s noise and what they need to be concerned about. Because noise will happen and that’s not what clients should be afraid of or spend their resources responding to, which we’ve seen to be a really empowering thing.” says Limbik CEO, Zach Schwitzky.
Throughout 2022, Limbik has presented capabilities and partnerships with the anti-human trafficking non-governmental organization Polaris, which has operated the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) – funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – since 2007. By leveraging NetBase Quid® data to predict the PFI of human trafficking-related MDM narratives between July 2021 and February 2022, Limbik was able to validate the efficacy of PFI as an accurate leading indicator of changes (increases or decreases) in NHTH call volume, thereby enabling Polaris to adequately staff the NHTH and proactively inform hotline advocates regarding the false and conspiratorial narratives that can be expected. Further, when analyzing QAnon and human trafficking-related Facebook activity between January 2020 and February 2021, Limbik determined that 19 percent of posts originated from foreign accounts – primarily accounts in or attributable to Russia and China.
A core piece to Limbik’s technology strategy is leveraging NetBase Quid® data for AI computations. NetBase Quid® is a key component to identifying and prioritizing information threats. With NetBase Quid®’s sophisticated social monitoring tools, Limbik can obtain nearly real-time updates on MDM content; whether a piece of misinformation is increasing in popularity or generating growing engagement is integral to informing Limbik’s key predictive metrics about the performance and risk of MDM content and actors.
NetBase Quid®’s comprehensive information sources also enable Limbik to identify new and emerging MDM narratives. Geographical data insights aid Limbik in identifying where MDM narratives are gaining traction and whether foreign influence campaigns may be at play in creating or amplifying MDM content. Leveraging NetBase Quid®’s data and its own PFI framework, Limbik integrates the best of emerging technology and human intelligence to enable its partners to proactively identify, evaluate, and respond to the most consequential information threats proliferating online.
Learn more about how companies are using NetBase Quid to identify helpful, as well as harmful insight by reaching out for a demo today!