Digital Politics and Foreign Interventions through Illiberal Communication: A Natural Language Processing Approach

Please note - change of speaker and subject. Sandwich Lunch provided

The phenomenon of foreign actors employing directed political communication to sway the politics of another country is easier and more prevalent than ever. Disinformation campaigns do not solely transmit deceitful political information abroad, but they also aim at changing pre-established attitudes regarding politics and democratic institutions. Powerful non-democratic states have both the means and the incentive to spread such discourse to democratic and un- democratic countries. The main aim of the talk is to uncover ways in which foreign-owned media employ illiberal discourse abroad, as well as its timing relative to the calendar of significant political events in the receiving countries. The talk provides an overview using an example of recently published work (Elshehawy et al. 2022) of how to retrieve and use corpora of over a million news stories from Kremlin-sponsored communication and employ tools of Natural Language Processing to detect foreign propaganda and its strategic use in affecting the domestic politics of receiving countries. The talk also explores future venues of such research on foreign state-to-state propaganda and its implications on the Middle East.