Opposition research, also known as oppo research and sometimes just oppo, is the process of seeking out information to use against an adversary such as a political opponent or business competitor. The terms may refer to both the activity of research and the information resulting from it.
Opposition research has probably been conducted for as long as human beings have had conflicts, which is the entirety of human history. However, the ability to find information about people has increased dramatically since the internet and in particular social media became so pervasive. Before that, researchers had to work a lot harder to find information, particularly if the target wasn’t a public figure. Now, however, exploring the target’s Facebook or Twitter account often yield so much data that it’s not necessary to look elsewhere.
Self-directed oppo is often conducted in similar circumstances to those in which the target is an adversary. In this case, the purpose is to find any information that could be damaging before the other side does, and try to either expunge the information or find the most effective way of spinning it.
See also: reputation management