Trends in Online Influence Efforts

Publication Year
Empirical Studies of Conflict Project

This article introduces a dataset on the covert use of social media to influence politics by promoting propaganda, advocating controversial viewpoints, and spreading disinformation.  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. Our data draw on more than 1000 media reports and 500 research articles/reports to identify IEs, track their progress, and classify their features. The data cover 78 foreign influence efforts (FIEs) and 25 domestic influence efforts (DIEs)---in which governments targeted their own citizens---against 51 different countries from 2011 through early-2021. The Influence Effort dataset measures covert information campaigns by state actors, facilitating research on contemporary statecraft. 

(Last updated May 11, 2023)

Associated files:

  1. Codebook
  2. ESOC Influence Effort Database V4 - database of 93 foreign influence efforts (FIEs) and 34 domestic influence efforts (DIEs)
  3. Excluded Cases - 74 No FIEs and 92 No DIEs
  4. Annotated Research Bibliography - an annotated bibliography of 627 research articles on foreign influence efforts
  5. News Article Bibliography - citations for all 1,213 news articles and reports we used to build the data
  6. Replication Files




Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, 2020

Publication Topic
Politics and Public Opinion
Publication Type
Policy Report