Finding facts online is increasingly burdensome. Misinformation, influence operations, deep fakes, and fake news cause confusion and stoke outrage. And now, in addition to battling traditional cyberattacks, companies must confront a new and rapidly metastasizing threat: Narrative attacks. Without the proper technology tools, organizations are vulnerable to the countless misleading narratives that rocket across the digital information ecosystem, instantly causing massive financial losses and reputational harm.
Blackbird.AI is unveiling a new weapon to combat narrative threats: The RAV3N Narrative Intelligence and Research Team. Comprising international experts ranging from data scientists and behavioral psychologists to linguists, journalists, and national security professionals, this specialized team will delve deep into the vast digital ecosystem to identify and publish findings to protect organizations from narrative attacks that threaten organizations on multiple fronts.
The team’s name is a nod to the intelligence of ravens, black birds with remarkable intelligence and keen eyesight that can mimic sounds, play games, and solve problems. The three-eyed raven in Game of Thrones had powers to see the past, present, and future. Similarly, Blackbird.AI’s team can identify emerging narrative-based threats before they take shape.
This graphic illustrates the impact one user can have on driving harmful narratives at speed and scale.
“The RAV3N team goes deep into identifying narrative attacks and risks to protect our customers and the wider business community,” said Wasim Khaled, Co-Founder and CEO of Blackbird.AI. "The more we publish these findings and educate the market on this new threat vector, the better off organizations will be to protect themselves best.”
The RAV3N team is already publishing research about narrative attacks:
- The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank sparked intense debate online, with activists and influencers pushing different narratives about the causes. Analysis by Blackbird.AI's Constellation platform revealed several misleading narratives that took hold, propagated by both left- and right-wing cohorts. One prominent narrative, for example, included calls for a "bank run" on all banks. The rapid spread of these unsubstantiated narratives online highlights how even strong brands can have their reputations damaged when false stories proliferate unchecked.
- Sony recently faced claims of a hack by a ransomware group. Despite thin evidence, negative narratives about the company's security spread rapidly online. Analysis by Blackbird.AI revealed dominant narratives like eroded trust in Sony's cybersecurity practices, anger over repeated breaches and price hikes, and speculation linking the hack to an executive's retirement. Often, misleading narratives can be as reputationally harmful as actual cyberattacks. The rapid spread of narratives online highlights the need for preemptive strategies and AI tools to monitor emerging stories, understand risks and inform better decisions during crises.
- MGM Resorts suffered a cyberattack in September that knocked systems offline for days, causing disruption and allegedly costing over $100 million. Analysis by Blackbird.AI found the attack sparked many negative narratives online that could damage MGM's reputation. Major online narratives included criticism of MGM's response, suspicions of a cover-up, and contrasting MGM's refusal to pay ransom with a competitor who did pay. The attack appeared to erode public trust in MGM and broader institutions like other casinos and banks. The incident demonstrates that cyberattacks require a robust incident response, but equally important are narrative intelligence strategies to monitor emerging stories, understand risks, and inform better decisions during crises.
- FEMA's announcement of a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System sparked conspiracy theories online. Occasional EAS testing ensures critical emergency systems work correctly—the timing aimed to avoid dangerous international confusion. Yet viral claims spread that the EAS tone combined with 5G and COVID vaccines triggered a zombie apocalypse. The incident highlights how even routine and mundane public events can trigger false narratives, both humorous and alarming, that target public institutions.
Khaled emphasized the urgency of narrative attacks. "A staggering $78B is lost annually due to perception manipulation incidents popping up in our daily news and social media feeds," he noted. While many organizations remain vulnerable to such attacks, the CEO believes that the unique blend of the RAV3N team and Blackbird.AI's Constellation Narrative Intelligence Platform will fortify their customers like never before.
In an era where information integrity is constantly under siege, initiatives like Team RAV3N are essential. Offering organizations a shield against narrative attacks, Blackbird.AI’s latest endeavor could change the way businesses approach and navigate the intricate web of today's digital narratives.
To learn more about how Blackbird.AI can help in these situations, contact us here.
Blackbird.AI helps organizations detect and respond to threats that cause reputational and financial harm. Powered by their AI-Driven Narrative & Risk Intelligence Constellation Platform, organizations can proactively understand risks and threats to their reputation in real-time. Blackbird.AI was founded by a team of experts from artificial intelligence, and national security, with a mission to defend authenticity and fight narrative manipulation. Recognized by Forrester as a "Top Threat Intelligence Company," Blackbird.AI's technology is used by many of the world's largest organizations for strategic decision making
BALANCING THE COMPLEXITIES OF ONLINE DISCOURSE
While all these recommendations seem to be sound, the likelihood that these measures can be agreed upon and implemented are becoming increasingly less likely in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, we have been moving in the opposite direction. Platforms have begun to roll back access for research communities, decrease moderation around misinformation, or strike down moderation altogether in the name of freedom of expression. The very notion of banning a popular platform in the U.S. would have seemed unthinkable a few short years ago, with organizations like the ACLU strongly voicing that a ban on TikTok would violate the First Amendment.