Cyber democracy in the digital age: Characterizing hate networks in the 2022 US midterm elections

Andrés Zapata Rozo, Alejandra Campo-Archbold, Daniel Díaz-López, Ian Gray, Javier Pastor-Galindo, Pantaleone Nespoli, Félix Gómez Mármol, Damon McCoy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Social media has become integral to societal discourse and play a role in shaping public engagement, particularly in democratic electoral processes. This paper addresses the pressing issue of hate speech on social media during the 2022 US midterm elections. Unlike previous research, which often relies on limited datasets and classic methodologies, we leverage Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques to analyze Twitter data through advanced models of entity recognition, sentiment analysis, and community extraction, having persistence in Knowledge Graphs for consuming the intelligence efficiently. Results indicate that in the US midterm elections 2022, Arizona was the state that provided more content (507,551 tweets) related to a Chief Electoral Official, with 31.58% of them identified in the most aggressive cluster due to its mean attribute values of “attack on commenter” (0.7), “inflammatory” (∼0.3), “attack on author” (∼0.2), and “toxicity” (∼0.2). The name entity recognition model also identified an association between those aggressive tweets and the previous 2020 US Presidential campaign, characterized by attacks on election officials based on conspiracy theories campaigns. Knowledge graphs contributed to understanding the concentration of attacks and connectivity between topics commonly mentioned in hate speech content. Thus, our results offer detailed insights into the actors and dynamics of online harassment in electoral contexts, illuminating the challenges posed by harassment and proposing preventive mechanisms applicable to diverse electoral processes worldwide.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number102459
    JournalInformation Fusion
    StatePublished - Oct 2024


    • Cyber democracy
    • Harassment
    • NER
    • NLP
    • Semantic similarity
    • Sentiment analysis
    • US midterm elections

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Signal Processing
    • Information Systems
    • Hardware and Architecture


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