A Tel Aviv University professor discovered that the algorithm he used to detect the spread of coronavirus can also stop the spread of viral anti-Semitism on social media.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
They are calling it the “Iron Dome” of virtual and viral epidemics.
Dr. Dan Yamin of Tel Aviv University is an expert in detecting the spread of infectious virus outbreaks and his methodology was adopted by the government of Israel in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Remarkably, Yamin realized his system is also applicable to social media networks and the spread of viral messages – especially anti-Semitic messages.
“At the center of any infection process are contact and mixing patterns,” said Yamin, head of the Lab for Epidemic Modeling and Analysis at the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering. “These patterns represent the social interactions of individuals.”
His system monitors and models human behavior, and he found there is a common cause of both the spread of COVID-19 and the spread of viral messages online.
“The tool we developed helps locate the virus locally and also produces simulations of the spread of the virus – predicting what will happen if one policy or another is implemented in the field,” he said.
For example, Dr. Yamin’s group recommended that Israel’s Health Ministry reopen daycare centers, based on the data collected.
In addition, Dr. Yamin found that a targeted closure imposed on high-risk population groups and local infection groups is up to five times more effective in reducing mortality compared to a nationwide closure strategy. This finding helped the Israeli government adopt the current approach of targeted closures.
Although he is associated with the engineering faculty, Yamin did a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University’s School of Public Health.
At Yale he was disturbed by the level of anti-Israel sentiment on American social networks and its ability to go viral. He immediately made the connection.
Based on the same patterns he studied in disease transmission, Yamin developed a system that uses artificial intelligence to identify how certain groups use viral marketing tactics to spread anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages.
He says his approach is based on the missing factor in traditional epidemiology – data on the human factor. “These patterns represent the social interactions of individuals in society.” He adds that when it comes to the spread of disease, “whoever doesn’t consider these elements misses the point completely.”
Based on the contagious patterns of diseases he researched as part of his scientific work, Dr. Yamin began to build a system that uses artificial intelligence to identify how certain groups use viral marketing tactics.
The system, known as the “Iron Dome of Social Networking,” is designed to identify and track content that has the potential to go viral in terms of social media. Dr. Yamin explains that people who pass on tweets without overthinking are very similar to asymptomatic carriers of infectious disease. Many Twitter users inadvertently pass on information with overt or covert anti-Semitic messages.
Choosing when to respond on social media is a sensitive matter. Therefore, Dr. Yamin suggests using artificial intelligence, such as the one in his social media Iron Dome system, to assist in the decision-making process.
“Active writing for Israel on social networks is not always the best approach,” he says. “Most anti-Israel tweets are not viral, so why waste time on tweets that won’t get anywhere anyway?”
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