Newswise — A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor who has made a name for himself tracking the spread of terrorist organization messages through social media will soon teach those skills at a NATO training course in Latvia. Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy chair and professor of information science at UA Little Rock, and his doctoral student, Nihal Hussain, will conduct a four-day social media analysis training course for NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOM COE) at the Latvian Defense Academy March 21-24. “The social media analysis course will help end-users to better understand the online information environment,” Agarwal said. “We will be discussing our research on blogs and their role in propaganda dissemination, disinformation and fake news. We will train the participants on the Blogtrackers program developed in my lab and social cyber forensics.” Agarwal, who also is the director of the UA Little Rock Center of Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), is highly respected for his social media research. His recent research included studying how governments and groups such as ISIS use social media to spread deviant messages and affect opinions, behavior and media coverage.

Agarwal and two of his doctoral students presented their research findings during a NATO conference in October 2016. Agarwal and the students — Hussain and Samer Al-Khateeb — studied and tracked social media responses to NATO exercises during summer 2016, including anti-NATO narratives from pro-Russian outlets.

Prior to the training course, Agarwal will also speak at a big data panel during the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence conference March 20. In the seminar, “Trends in Social Media and their Further Development,” experts from academia, government, the private sector, and the media will provide insights and practical recommendations for NATO civilian and military personnel concerning the evolution of social media and its relevance.

Nitin’s panel will focus on the use of digital forensics and investigations in the cyber domain. Additional speakers include Donara Barojan, a digital forensic research associate at Atlantic Council, and Chris Ryder, a senior human factors consultant at QinetiQ.