Strategic Information Operation in YouTube: The Case of the White Helmets

Choudhury, Nazim; Ng, Kin Wai; Iamnitchi, Adriana; Thomson, Robert; Bisgin, Halil; Dancy, Christopher; Hyder, Ayaz; Hussain, Muhammad

Strategic information operations (e.g. disinformation, political propaganda, and other forms of online manipulation) are critical concerns for researchers in social cyber security. Two strategies, spoofing and astroturfing, are often employed in disinformation campaigns to discredit truthful narratives, confuse audiences, and manipulate opinions by censoring critics’ voices or using one-sided testimonials. This study analyzes patterns of spoofing and astroturfing on YouTube regarding narratives about the White Helmets, a Syrian civil volunteer organization active in the long armed conflict in the country.