Detection of Promoted Social Media Campaigns


  • Emilio Ferrara University of Southern California
  • Onur Varol Indiana University
  • Filippo Menczer Indiana University
  • Alessandro Flammini Indiana University



Information spreading on social media contributes to the formation of collective opinions. Millions of social media users are exposed every day to popular memes — some generated organically by grassroots activity, others sustained by advertising, information campaigns or more or less transparent coordinated efforts. While most information campaigns are benign, some may have nefarious purposes, including terrorist propaganda, political astroturf, and financial market manipulation. This poses a crucial technological challenge with deep social implications: can we detect whether the spreading of a viral meme is being sustained by a promotional campaign? Here we study trending memes that attract attention either organically, or by means of advertisement. We designed a machine learning framework capable to detect promoted campaigns and separate them from organic ones in their early stages. Using a dataset of millions of posts associated with trending Twitter hashtags, we prove that remarkably accurate early detection is possible, achieving 95% AUC score. Feature selection analysis reveals that network diffusion patterns and content cues are powerful early detection signals.




How to Cite

Ferrara, E., Varol, O., Menczer, F., & Flammini, A. (2021). Detection of Promoted Social Media Campaigns. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 10(1), 563-566.