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Characterizing Information Diets of Social Media Users

By Juhi Kulshrestha, Muhammad Bilal Zafar, Lisette Espin-Noboa, Krishna P. Gummadi and Saptarshi Ghosh


With the widespread adoption of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, there has been a shift in the way information is produced and consumed. Earlier, the only producers of information were traditional news organizations, which broadcast the same carefully-edited information to all consumers over mass media channels. Whereas, now, in online social media, any user can be a producer of information, and every user selects which other users she connects to, thereby choosing the information she consumes. Moreover, the personalized recommendations that most social media sites provide also contribute towards the information consumed by individual users. In this work, we define a concept of information diet -- which is the topical distribution of a given set of information items (e.g., tweets) -- to characterize the information produced and consumed by various types of users in the popular Twitter social media. At a high level, we find that (i) popular users mostly produce very specialized diets focusing on only a few topics; in fact, news organizations (e.g., NYTimes) produce much more focused diets on social media as compared to their mass media diets, (ii) most users' consumption diets are primarily focused towards one or two topics of their interest, and (iii) the personalized recommendations provided by Twitter help to mitigate some of the topical imbalances in the users' consumption diets, by adding information on diverse topics apart from the users' primary topics of interest.Comment: In Proceeding of International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM), Oxford, UK, May 201

Topics: Computer Science - Social and Information Networks, Computer Science - Computers and Society, Computer Science - Human-Computer Interaction
Year: 2017
OAI identifier:

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