What is Deception Theory in Social Media Intelligence?

 

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Deception theory is a framework that identifies potential red flags around social media accounts to help verify if they are real people or not and determine the probability of their intentions. Malicious actors often use fake identities on social media to spread misinformation, target victims, or conduct surveillance on others. A user’s online identity is just as important as their real-world identity because any information used to blackmail someone, embarrass them, or negatively impact their reputation can be very dangerous. Social media users should take precautions to protect themselves from online predators, hackers, and other malicious actors who may pose as different persons online than they are. Social media intelligence analysts are responsible for understanding how users may be putting themselves at risk through their digital footprint or trusted connections on social networks. They must also understand what automated tools cannot detect:

  • Whether an account is a person or not.
  • Whether its real intentions are good or bad.
  • Whether an account has been compromised by third-party actors who could use it for malicious purposes.

This post will cover fundamental principles of deception theory in social media intelligence with examples of how you can apply these principles to your accounts and network of contacts.

 

What is a Deception Theory?

Social media intelligence analysts need to understand how and why fake accounts are created so they can identify them, report them, and protect their trusted connections from being targeted or harmed by fake accounts. A deception theory is a model that attempts to identify potential red flags and determine the probability of a social media account being fake, malicious, or compromised in some way. The concept first used deception theories in the military to help understand what a potential enemy might do to mislead and trick allied forces into making bad decisions. Today, people can use social media deception theories to help understand what likely fake social media accounts may do to mislead and trick real users into making bad decisions.

 

Core Principles to Understand

Account verifiability: To what degree can a person’s account be verified? The more verifiable an account is, the more likely it is that it’s a natural person. Timing – When an account is created, how frequently it’s used, and the content it produces can indicate if it’s fake. Behavior – How an account behaves and interacts with others can suggest if it’s fake. Scope – The type of content an account shares may indicate if it’s fake.

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Network Analysis

– Network analysis is the term used to describe how social media deception theorists analyze a person’s entire network of connections on social media. Social media intelligence analysts must understand how fake accounts are created and how people can use a whole network of fake accounts for malicious purposes. Fake accounts are often made by real people creating “friendships” with real users to gain their trust. Once a fake account is added as a friend to your network, it may start interacting with your other friends. This gives the phony account credibility and makes it appear like a natural person. Analyzing a single person’s social media account, you can verify their network’s authenticity by looking at their connections’ quality. If most of their relationships are fake, then it’s highly likely that their account is also simulated.

 

Basic principles of deception theory

– If you know what indicators are associated with deceptive behaviors, you can apply them to analyze likely fake accounts on social media. With this approach, you will examine each account and use one or more indicators to determine if that account is fake or not. Account verifiability – To what degree can a person’s account be verified? The more verifiable an account is, the more likely it is that it’s a natural person. Timing – When an account is created, how frequently it’s used, and the content it produces can indicate if it’s fake. Behavior – How an account behaves and interacts with others can suggest if it’s fake. Content – The type of content an account shares may indicate if it’s fake.

 

Timing and behavior analysis

– The timing and behavior of an account can indicate whether or not it’s fake. For example, if a new version is created on the same day as a significant news event, it may be an attempt to ride the wave of attention that event generated. Fake accounts also sometimes use old photos that were taken years ago or photos from other accounts. This is a common mistake made by fake accounts because they don’t have the same knowledge about posing for an image as a natural person does.

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Content analysis

– The type of content an account shares can indicate if it’s fake. If a fake account shares mostly political content, it’s more likely that it’s fake because political content can create division, which is often the goal of fake accounts. Another sign that an account is fake is if it’s selling products or services. This is a common tactic used by malicious “influencers” who create fake accounts and try to sell products in the hopes of making a profit.

 

What is Social Media Intelligence?

Social media intelligence is a critical component of digital risk management that helps social media users and businesses understand the risks associated with using social media. It also helps identify potential malicious actors who may pose as different persons online than they are. Social media users and businesses can use social media intelligence to help identify fake accounts, determine a person’s real identity, and potentially discover a person’s true intentions. Social media intelligence analysts can identify fake accounts by applying deception theory principles and understanding how people deceive others online. While people can use many automated tools to detect fake accounts or malicious actors, these tools don’t necessarily understand the context behind an account’s actions.

 

Identifying Fake Accounts

– Many times, malicious actors use fake identities on social media to spread misinformation, target victims, or conduct surveillance on others. A user’s online identity is just as important as their real-world identity because any information used to blackmail someone, embarrass them, or negatively impact their reputation can be very dangerous. Social media users should take precautions to protect themselves from online predators, hackers, and other malicious actors who may pose as different persons online than they are. Social media intelligence analysts are responsible for understanding how users may be putting themselves at risk through their digital footprint or trusted connections on social networks. They must also understand what automated tools cannot detect: whether an account is a person or not, whether its real intentions are good or bad, and whether an account has been compromised by third-party actors who could use it for malicious purposes.

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Identifying Malicious Intents

– Many malicious actors use fake identities on social media to trick real users into trusting them. Once a fake account has gained the trust of a real user, it can use that trust to exploit that user or share malicious links or content that can harm others. Social media intelligence analysts are responsible for understanding how fake accounts are created and used for malicious purposes. They can use deception theory principles to identify fake accounts and determine a person’s true identity. They can also identify cruel intentions by analyzing an account’s behavior and content. By applying deception theory principles, social media intelligence analysts can identify fake accounts and malicious purposes by analyzing an account’s timing, behavior, and content.

 

Identifying Compromised Accounts

– Compromised accounts can be used for malicious purposes and can also be used to impersonate real people. If a person’s history has been compromised, they may not be aware that they could be being emulated. Social media intelligence analysts can help protect people from compromised accounts by identifying fake accounts and malicious intentions. They can also help protect people from having their accounts impersonated by identifying compromised accounts. People can apply deception theory principles to a single account or network of connections. Social media intelligence analysts can use these principles to identify fake accounts and malicious intentions across a social network. The best way to defend against fake accounts and cruel intentions is to verify the authenticity of an account before you start interacting with it. If you have questions about an account, you should directly engage with the account owner and ask them questions related to the account.

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