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Adversarial accounts and narratives: tools for identifying attacks in the digital debate

At Linterna Verde, we receive more and more requests from civil society organisations and journalists who ask us to analyse the nature and scope of accounts that, through coordinated actions, trolling techniques, adversarial narratives and hashtags, try to affect the organizations messages and campaigns on social media. Four years ago, when we started documenting these types of warnings, communications teams have been knocking on our door with similar questions: how to differentiate a couple of critical social media posts from an attack?, when is it better to stay quiet so as not to amplify adversarial narratives and when to react?, what strategies for action are available to us in the short, medium and long term? Even throughout 2021, a third of the monitorings we conducted revolved around these kinds of issues.

While social media is full of aggressions, not all of this digital noise should be identified as an attack: first, it is important to classify the severity, frequency and direction of the digital actions of adverse accounts in order to know when and how to act. That is why at Linterna Verde we decided to create a risk assessment tool based on the most frequently asked questions we receive from civil society organisations.