T0102.003 "Exploit Data Voids"

Tactic stage: TA05

Summary: A data void refers to a word or phrase that results in little, manipulative, or low-quality search engine data. Data voids are hard to detect and relatively harmless until exploited by an entity aiming to quickly proliferate false or misleading information during a phenomenon that causes a high number of individuals to query the term or phrase. In the Plan phase, an influence operation may identify data voids for later exploitation in the operation. A 2019 report by Michael Golebiewski identifies five types of data voids. (1) “Breaking news” data voids occur when a keyword gains popularity during a short period of time, allowing an influence operation to publish false content before legitimate news outlets have an opportunity to publish relevant information. (2) An influence operation may create a “strategic new terms” data void by creating their own terms and publishing information online before promoting their keyword to the target audience. (3) An influence operation may publish content on “outdated terms” that have decreased in popularity, capitalizing on most search engines’ preferences for recency. (4) “Fragmented concepts” data voids separate connections between similar ideas, isolating segment queries to distinct search engine results. (5) An influence operation may use “problematic queries” that previously resulted in disturbing or inappropriate content to promote messaging until mainstream media recontextualizes the term.


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