One of the biggest challenges with influence ops is measuring their impact.

Here's a way to do it.

Six categories, based on IO spread through communities and across platforms.

Designed to assess and compare ops in real time.

H/t @BrookingsFP.
It assesses info ops according to two questions:

1. Did their content get picked up outside the community where it was originally posted?

2. Did it spread to other platforms or get picked up by mainstream media or high-profile amplifiers?
Category One ops stay on the platform where they were posted, and don't get picked up beyond the original community.

Most political spam and clickbait belong here. So does bot-driven astroturfing, like the Polish batch we found with @DFRLab.
Iran's efforts to target the Republican primaries on Facebook in 2012 were Category One, too.

@Graphika_NYC reported that here.
Category 2 are either posted on multiple platforms but don't spread beyond the insertion point, or stay on one platform but get picked up by multiple communities.
The Russian IRA's effort in 2019 was a Category 2. It was only on Instagram, but landed content in multiple communities at both ends of the political spectrum.
Category Three ops get picked up by multiple communities on multiple platforms, but don't make the jump to mainstream media.

It's a transient category, because ops that make it this far are likely to get picked up by media.

Journalists: be careful what you amplify.
There was a time when QAnon and Pizzagate were both Category Threes.

If researchers identify a Category Three, it's important to deal with it fast, before it gets worse.
Category Four ops break out of social media entirely, and get picked up by the mainstream media.

Many ops try to achieve this by reaching out directly to journalists by email or social media.
Category Five is when celebrities, politicians, candidates or other high-profile influencers share and amplify an influence operation.

This gives the op both much greater reach and much greater credibility.

Take care when you share.
And then there's Category Six. That's when an influence operation either causes a real-world change of some kind, or else carries the risk of real-world harm.

There haven't been many. Let's keep it that way.
One operation can hit different categories at different times.

For example, Secondary Infektion was usually Category Two, but jumped to Category Five.

By the same token, the 2016 IRA reached Category Six, but the 2019 IRA only reached Category Two.
I developed this scale for operational researchers to be able to assess, compare and prioritise info ops.

For example, how do Spamouflage Dragon (China), Endless Mayfly (Iran) and DCLeaks (Russia) compare?

Spamouflage: 2
Endless Mayfly: 4
DCLeaks: 6
But it's also a reminder: info ops are not just on social-media platforms, and they *do* target journalists and influencers directly.

As I've said so often: stay calm - but stay watchful.
You can follow @benimmo.
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