Cyber personalities as a target audience
Sartonen, Miika; Simola, Petteri; Timonen, Jussi; Lovén, Lauri (2017-06-29)
Sartonen, Miika; Simola, Petteri; Timonen, Jussi; Lovén, Lauri (2017) Cyber personalities as a target audience. In: Scanlon, M. and Nhien-AN, L.-K. (eds.) Proceedings of the European conference on information warfare and security ECCWS 2017, pp. 411-418.
© The Authors, 2017. All Rights Reserved.
Target audience analysis (TAA) is an essential part of any psychological operation. In order to convey a change in behaviour, the overall population is systematically segmented into target audiences (TAs) according to their expected responsiveness to different types of influence and messages, as well as their expected ability to behave in a desired way. The cyber domain poses a challenge to traditional TAA methods. Firstly, it is vast and complex, requiring effective algorithms to filter out relevant information within a meaningful timeframe. Secondly, it is constantly changing, representing a meshwork in formation, rather than a stable collection of TAA-specific data. The third challenge is that the target audience (TA) consists not of people, but of digital representations of people, whose true identity and characteristics cannot usually be verified. To address these challenges, the authors of this article suggest that the concept of TAA has to be revised for use in the cyber domain. Instead of trying to analyse physical people through the cyber interface, the authors have conceptualized an abstract entity whose physical identity might not be known, but whose behavioural patterns can be observed in the cyber environment. These cyber personalities, some of which are more or less intelligent algorithms, construct and share their interpretation of reality as well as carefully planned narratives in the digital environment. From the viewpoint of TAA, the only relevant quality of these entities is their potential ability to contribute to the objectives of a psychological operation. As a first step, this article examines the cyber domain through a five-layer structure and looks at what TAA-relevant data is available for analysis. The authors also present ways of analysing cyber personalities and their networks, in order to conduct a TAA that effectively supports psychological influence in the cyber domain. As a way of better utilizing the digital nature of cyber personalities, a concept of dynamic TAs is also introduced.
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