On the Robustness of Sentiment Analysis for Stock Price Forecasting

1 Jan 2021  ·  Gabriel Deza, Colin Rowat, Nicolas Papernot ·

Machine learning (ML) models are known to be vulnerable to attacks both at training and test time. Despite the extensive literature on adversarial ML, prior efforts focus primarily on applications of computer vision to object recognition or sentiment analysis to movie reviews. In these settings, the incentives for adversaries to manipulate the model's prediction are often unclear and attacks require extensive control of direct inputs to the model. This makes it difficult to evaluate how severe the impact of vulnerabilities exposed is on systems deploying ML with little provenance guarantees for the input data. In this paper, we study adversarial ML with stock price forecasting. Adversarial incentives are clear and may be quantified experimentally through a simulated portfolio. We replicate an industry standard pipeline, which performs a sentiment analysis of Twitter data to forecast trends in stock prices. We show that an adversary can exploit the lack of provenance to indirectly use tweets to manipulate the model's perceived sentiment about a target company and in turn force the model to forecast price erroneously. Our attack is mounted at test time and does not modify the training data. Given past market anomalies, we conclude with a series of recommendations for the use of machine learning as input signal to trading algorithms.

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