Understanding potential cyber-armies in elections: A study of Taiwan

Ming Hung Wang*, Nhut Lam Nguyen, Shih chan Dai, Po Wen Chi, Chyi Ren Dow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Currently, online social networks are essential platforms for political organizations to monitor public opinion, disseminate information, argue with the opposition, and even achieve spin control. However, once such purposeful/aggressive articles flood social sites, it would be more difficult for users to distinguish which messages to read or to trust. In this paper, we aim to address this issue by identifying potential "cyber-armies/professional users" during election campaigns on social platforms. We focus on human-operated accounts who try to influence public discussions, for instance, by publishing hundreds/thousands of comments to show their support or rejection of particular candidates. To achieve our objectives, we collected activity data over six months from a prominent Taiwan-based social forum before the 2018 national election and applied a series of statistical analyses to screen out potential targets. From the results, we successfully identified several accounts according to distinctive characteristics that corresponded to professional users. According to the findings, users and platforms could realize potential information manipulation and increase the transparency of the online society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2248
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1


  • Cyber-army
  • Information manipulation
  • Political propaganda
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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