Technology Platform

Introducing the Contextus Platform – Integrate, Track, Expose

Through its proprietary Contextus Platform, the Network Contagion Research Institute has emerged as one of the leading authorities in the world on where virtual and social-media inspired deceit, manipulation, and hate exists. NCRI can help organizations and institutions understand how a given social network operates, and ultimately, help to expose or even predict, potential societal threat so that appropriate engagement or intervention can occur.


INTEGRATE

At the core of the NCRI’s Contextus platform is its ability to embed itself into both fringe and mainstream social media communities and become experts in their language, images, and hashtags while working to decode this information. We use tools to categorize images as well as to chart their flow within and between social platforms.

A visualization of meme-image clusters in our annotated community-based sample reveals happy merchant phenotypes infecting popular memes throughout the graph.

TRACK

The NCRI Contextus Platform takes in large bodies of text and images from these platforms in close to real time – collecting billions of posts and millions of images from fringe and mainstream websites which are then analyzed using artificial intelligence. As an example, our meme pipeline – the largest meme-classification pipeline that we know of in the world – can automatically cluster and identify memes using machine learning and crowdsourcing.

Cryptic, violent, and genocidal language and symbols across connected social-media communities are tracked and analyzed in order to identify critical meaning and context that could lead to increased societal threat.

Our analytic pipeline renders powerful graphs that take quantitative approaches to information collected, portraying narratives of manipulation, deception, and hate, including hostile intentions circulating around these networks.

These graphs specifically chart key words used in commentary across two social media communities as well as key political milestones leading up to the Charlottesville Unite The Right rally and car attack of August 12, 2017.

EXPOSE

NCRI can extract content trends that expose “red zones of infection,” delivering visual, graphical reporting that helps elevate the need for engagement and intervention by the appropriate authorities to help mitigate the potential for acts of violence.

NCRI issues peer-reviewed reports and data journalism on its blog that details critical findings to the public in order to increase awareness, to better understand, and hopefully to treat the infection of hate in modern political life.


The Contextus Platform In Action

A mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synogogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania occurred on October 27, 2018. Eleven people were killed and seven were injured in what is considered deadliest attack on a Jewish community in the United States. The perpetrator, Robert Bowers, has pled not guilty.

Bowers was active on the online social media network Gab. The language he used when tagging included white genocide, kike, Jews, (((they))), Synagogue, (((Fellow White Person))), Goyim, Goy… maps to the “Jew” neighborhood of Gab’s communal language for #whitegenocide contexts.

Posting on Gab shortly before the attack, Bowers wrote:

Similarly, an anonymous post on 8chan just prior to a mass shooting in two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people and injured many more:

Below is a graph of the percentage of daily posts including ethnic references that occurred over 13 months across the social media platform 8chan, a Website made up of user-generated message boards:

It is the critical conversations like these that can be identified, tracked, and exposed using the Contextus Technology Platform developed by the Network Contagion Research Institute.

Why Not Simply Censor These Communities?

In fact, censorship seems to aid the growth of extremist online communities. NCRI research has proven that banning people or extremist groups from social networks actually help to organize and galvanize some online communities. Furthermore, NCRI research has found that membership in these online communities and the number of daily posts actually increase as a result of censorship. The graphs below show the increase in percentage of accounts created on GAB when Twitter instituted various bans.