Trends in Online Influence Efforts

Publication Year
Empirical Studies of Conflict Project

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) create novel opportunities for a wide range of political actors. Governments have used social media to influence politics at the national level and in a range of countries by promoting propaganda, advocating controversial viewpoints, and spreading disinformation. This paper describes a database of foreign influence efforts (FIEs) and domestic influence efforts (DIEs). Influence efforts are defined as: (i) coordinated campaigns by a state or the ruling party in an autocracy to impact one or more specific aspects of politics at home or in another state, (ii) through media channels, including social media, by (iii) producing content designed to appear indigenous to the target state. The objective of such campaigns can be quite broad and to date have included shaping election outcomes at various levels, shifting the political agenda on topics ranging from health to security, and encouraging political polarization. Our data draw on more than 920 media reports and 380 research articles/reports to identify IEs, track their progress, and classify their features. The dataset includes 76 FIEs targeting 30 different countries from 2013 through 2019, as well as 20 domestic influence efforts (DIE) in which governments targeted their own citizens.

Associated files:

  1. Codebook
  2. ESOC Influence Effort Database V3 - database of 78 foreign influence efforts (FIEs) and 25 domestic influence efforts (DIEs)
  3. Excluded Cases (41)
  4. Annotated Research Bibliography - an annotated bibliography of 501 research articles on foreign influence efforts
  5. News Article Bibliographycitations for all 1,094 news articles and reports we used to build the data




Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, 2020

Publication Topic
Politics and Public Opinion
Publication Type
Policy Report