Our $1.5 million project began in 2019 with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The funding is one of 12 projects selected for an award that year by DOD’s Minerva Research Initiative, which supports university-based social science research aimed at improving the basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the United States.
Why does the US government care about this topic? Disaster and crisis yield a significant amount of social media that has been both a boon and a problem for military first responders. Disinformation and misinformation during significant crises can slow response which can cost lives. Rumor and social hysteria spread through social media are a significant concern of government as it impacts the ability to communicate correct information and leads to a number of significant problems. This research will help us understand the barriers to communication in a crisis. It will guide the development of new methods to improve audience resilience to disinformation, misinformation, social hysteria, and crowd manipulation that are especially needed today.