Behavioral Analysis of Related Networks on Open Web Links



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What is this project?

Barn Owl investigates if disinformation sites can be correctly identified from a group of misinformation and neutral sites through a combination of SEO signals. We investigate the following by combining SEO marketing tools and Python:

A.) Useful disinformation data can be pulled independently with marketing techniques – no need for potential filtering by third parties

B.) Small and Mid-sized disinformation sites can structurally be detected separately from misinformation sites.

  • If so, what combination of structures work?
  • What is their accuracy?

C.) Small and Mid-sized disinformation sites can be detected on the backside without need of content analysis

D.) Small and Mid-sized disinformation sites have a unique set of SEO signal identifiers and tendencies

E.) If there is a unique structure, is it applicable across multiple languages?


Task Team Leader: Liz Wong

History of this Project

B.A.R.N.O.W.L. officially launched Spring 2022 and has continued into Summer 2022 and the 22-23 AY at the Applied Research Laboratories, UT Austin, or ARL:UT. We have presented our work to Former CIA Director John Brennan and work in joint partnership under GDIL, Sandia National Laboratories, and ARL:UT.

Goals for 2022-2023
  • Grow existing data’s neutral, misinformation, and disinformation list
  • Use Pandas to explore small sample set
  • Write findings
  • Apply research to larger dataset —> Possibly partner with ARL:UT for Machine Learning (ML)


  • Write up of small exploratory findings
  • Pandas code available to GitHub for exploratory analysis
  • Present to Sandia for renewal
  • Completed dataset with seed sites and backlinks data
  • Expand larger dataset to include foreign language sample and compare findings
What students will learn
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Network Analysis
  • Giphy
  • Python (Pandas)
  • Freedom of Speech Policy
  • Data Visualization
  • Research development and process
  • Scientific Writing

Get in Touch

Want to work with us? Have an idea for a project? Curious about some aspect of the lab? Please reach out. We promise we’re friendly!