Weaponized Crowdsourcing: An Emerging Threat and Potential Countermeasures
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Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015. The crowdsourcing movement has spawned a host of successful efforts that organize large numbers of globally-distributed participants to tackle a range of tasks, including crisis mapping e.g., Ushahidi, translation (e.g., Duolingo), and protein folding (e.g., Foldit). Alongside these specialized systems, we have seen the rise of general purpose crowdsourcing marketplaces like Amazon Mechanical Turk and Crowdflower that aim to connect task requesters with task workers, toward creating new crowdsourcing systems that can intelligently organize large numbers of people. However, these positive opportunities have a sinister counterpart:what we dubWeaponized Crowdsourcing.Already we have seen the first glimmers of this ominous new trendincluding large-scale crowdturfing, wherein masses of cheaply paid shills can be organized to spread malicious URLs in social media(Grier, Thomas, Paxson, Zhang,2010; Lee Kim, 2012), form artificial grassroots campaigns-astroturf (Gao et al.,2010; Lee, Caverlee, Cheng, Sui,2013), spread rumor and misinformation (Castillo, Mendoza, Poblete, 2011; Gupta, Lamba, Kumaraguru, Joshi,2013), and manipulate search engines.A recent study finds that 90% of tasks on many crowdsourcing platforms are for crowdturfing(Wang et al.,2012), and our initial research(Lee, Tamilarasan, Caverlee, 2013) shows that most malicious tasks in crowdsourcing systems target.