This week, TIPI researchers will be presenting a recent disinformation study at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) in its Communication Technology Division (CTEC).

Title: “Visually provocative: How visual elements influence IRA Facebook advertisement engagements”

Abstract: This study examines a relatively understudied aspect in disinformation research: the affective nature of contents. Employing a mixed-method approach, we investigate the visual elements of images used in the Facebook ads purchased by Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) and their impact on ad engagements. Following systemic functional visual semiotic theory, visual elements of gaze and social distance were coded for images in IRA Facebook ads. Multiple regression analyses using the coded visual variables investigated the effects of visual semiotic variables, political leaning of the IRA ads on IRA ad engagements: (1) impressions, (2) clicks, and (3) clicks-per-impression (CPI). The results reveal significant effects of visual semiotics and some interaction effects with political leaning of ads on IRA ad engagements.

The research team is led by Jaewon R. Choi and includes TIPI co-director Dr. Sharon Strover, Soyoung Park, and Mackenzie Schnell. You can read more about them and other researchers at TIPI by visiting Our Experts page.

This investigation was sponsored by Good Systems, a UT-Austin Bridging Barriers Grand Challenge.