Next week, UMass’s EQUATE initiative will host Kai-Cheng Yang, a rising star researcher, studying bots and misinformation in social media. Kaicheng will give a talk on Wednesday, November 8, at 11am in LGRC A311 (details below). If you prefer to join via Zoom, please use this Zoom link

TitleFantastic bots and how to find them

Abstract: Social bots have become an important component of online social media. Deceptive bots, in particular, can manipulate online discussions of critical issues ranging from elections to public health, threatening the constructive exchange of information. In this talk, I will first introduce Botometer, a machine learning-based bot detection tool I built. I will then present the malicious bot activities I found, focusing on an example of bots spreading health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, I’ll present two case studies on advanced social botnets, powered by ChatGPT and GANs, that emerged recently to highlight the threats of abusing AI technologies.

Bio: Kai-Cheng Yang is a postdoctoral research associate at the Network Science Institute, Northeastern University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Informatics from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington. He is interested in computational social science with a focus on identifying bad actors, such as malicious social bots, and studying the diffusion of misinformation on social media. His current research aims to uncover how generative AI is used for deceptive and disruptive purposes and develop countermeasures leveraging AI technologies. He built popular tools, such as Botometer, that have served tens of thousands of users. He also acted as the expert on social bots in the Twitter vs. Elon Musk trial. CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and many other popular news outlets have covered his work.

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