10 research outputs found

    Quantifying How Hateful Communities Radicalize Online Users

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    While online social media offers a way for ignored or stifled voices to be heard, it also allows users a platform to spread hateful speech. Such speech usually originates in fringe communities, yet it can spill over into mainstream channels. In this paper, we measure the impact of joining fringe hateful communities in terms of hate speech propagated to the rest of the social network. We leverage data from Reddit to assess the effect of joining one type of echo chamber: a digital community of like-minded users exhibiting hateful behavior. We measure members' usage of hate speech outside the studied community before and after they become active participants. Using Interrupted Time Series (ITS) analysis as a causal inference method, we gauge the spillover effect, in which hateful language from within a certain community can spread outside that community by using the level of out-of-community hate word usage as a proxy for learned hate. We investigate four different Reddit sub-communities (subreddits) covering three areas of hate speech: racism, misogyny and fat-shaming. In all three cases we find an increase in hate speech outside the originating community, implying that joining such community leads to a spread of hate speech throughout the platform. Moreover, users are found to pick up this new hateful speech for months after initially joining the community. We show that the harmful speech does not remain contained within the community. Our results provide new evidence of the harmful effects of echo chambers and the potential benefit of moderating them to reduce adoption of hateful speech

    No Love Among Haters: Negative Interactions Reduce Hate Community Engagement

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    While online hate groups pose significant risks to the health of online platforms and safety of marginalized groups, little is known about what causes users to become active in hate groups and the effect of social interactions on furthering their engagement. We address this gap by first developing tools to find hate communities within Reddit, and then augment 11 subreddits extracted with 14 known hateful subreddits (25 in total). Using causal inference methods, we evaluate the effect of replies on engagement in hateful subreddits by comparing users who receive replies to their first comment (the treatment) to equivalent control users who do not. We find users who receive replies are less likely to become engaged in hateful subreddits than users who do not, while the opposite effect is observed for a matched sample of similar-sized non-hateful subreddits. Using the Google Perspective API and VADER, we discover that hateful community first-repliers are more toxic, negative, and attack the posters more often than non-hateful first-repliers. In addition, we uncover a negative correlation between engagement and attacks or toxicity of first-repliers. We simulate the cumulative engagement of hateful and non-hateful subreddits under the contra-positive scenario of friendly first-replies, finding that attacks dramatically reduce engagement in hateful subreddits. These results counter-intuitively imply that, although under-moderated communities allow hate to fester, the resulting environment is such that direct social interaction does not encourage further participation, thus endogenously constraining the harmful role that these communities could play as recruitment venues for antisocial beliefs.Comment: 13 pages, 5 figures, 2 table

    Auditing Elon Musk's Impact on Hate Speech and Bots

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    On October 27th, 2022, Elon Musk purchased Twitter, becoming its new CEO and firing many top executives in the process. Musk listed fewer restrictions on content moderation and removal of spam bots among his goals for the platform. Given findings of prior research on moderation and hate speech in online communities, the promise of less strict content moderation poses the concern that hate will rise on Twitter. We examine the levels of hate speech and prevalence of bots before and after Musk's acquisition of the platform. We find that hate speech rose dramatically upon Musk purchasing Twitter and the prevalence of most types of bots increased, while the prevalence of astroturf bots decreased.Comment: 3 figures, 1 tabl

    Massive Multi-Agent Data-Driven Simulations of the GitHub Ecosystem

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    Simulating and predicting planetary-scale techno-social systems poses heavy computational and modeling challenges. The DARPA SocialSim program set the challenge to model the evolution of GitHub, a large collaborative software-development ecosystem, using massive multi-agent simulations. We describe our best performing models and our agent-based simulation framework, which we are currently extending to allow simulating other planetary-scale techno-social systems. The challenge problem measured participant's ability, given 30 months of meta-data on user activity on GitHub, to predict the next months' activity as measured by a broad range of metrics applied to ground truth, using agent-based simulation. The challenge required scaling to a simulation of roughly 3 million agents producing a combined 30 million actions, acting on 6 million repositories with commodity hardware. It was also important to use the data optimally to predict the agent's next moves. We describe the agent framework and the data analysis employed by one of the winning teams in the challenge. Six different agent models were tested based on a variety of machine learning and statistical methods. While no single method proved the most accurate on every metric, the broadly most successful sampled from a stationary probability distribution of actions and repositories for each agent. Two reasons for the success of these agents were their use of a distinct characterization of each agent, and that GitHub users change their behavior relatively slowly

    COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy on Social Media: Building a Public Twitter Data Set of Antivaccine Content, Vaccine Misinformation, and Conspiracies

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    BackgroundFalse claims about COVID-19 vaccines can undermine public trust in ongoing vaccination campaigns, posing a threat to global public health. Misinformation originating from various sources has been spreading on the web since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Antivaccine activists have also begun to use platforms such as Twitter to promote their views. To properly understand the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy through the lens of social media, it is of great importance to gather the relevant data. ObjectiveIn this paper, we describe a data set of Twitter posts and Twitter accounts that publicly exhibit a strong antivaccine stance. The data set is made available to the research community via our AvaxTweets data set GitHub repository. We characterize the collected accounts in terms of prominent hashtags, shared news sources, and most likely political leaning. MethodsWe started the ongoing data collection on October 18, 2020, leveraging the Twitter streaming application programming interface (API) to follow a set of specific antivaccine-related keywords. Then, we collected the historical tweets of the set of accounts that engaged in spreading antivaccination narratives between October 2020 and December 2020, leveraging the Academic Track Twitter API. The political leaning of the accounts was estimated by measuring the political bias of the media outlets they shared. ResultsWe gathered two curated Twitter data collections and made them publicly available: (1) a streaming keyword–centered data collection with more than 1.8 million tweets, and (2) a historical account–level data collection with more than 135 million tweets. The accounts engaged in the antivaccination narratives lean to the right (conservative) direction of the political spectrum. The vaccine hesitancy is fueled by misinformation originating from websites with already questionable credibility. ConclusionsThe vaccine-related misinformation on social media may exacerbate the levels of vaccine hesitancy, hampering progress toward vaccine-induced herd immunity, and could potentially increase the number of infections related to new COVID-19 variants. For these reasons, understanding vaccine hesitancy through the lens of social media is of paramount importance. Because data access is the first obstacle to attain this goal, we published a data set that can be used in studying antivaccine misinformation on social media and enable a better understanding of vaccine hesitancy

    Characterizing social media manipulation in the 2020 U.S. presidential election

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    Democracies are postulated upon the ability to carry out fair elections, free from any form of interference or manipulation. Social media have been reportedly used to distort public opinion nearing election events in the United States and beyond. With over 240 million election-related tweets recorded between 20 June and 9 September 2020, in this study we chart the landscape of social media manipulation in the context of the upcoming 3 November 2020 U.S. presidential election. We focus on characterizing two salient dimensions of social media manipulation, namely (i) automation (e.g., the prevalence of bots), and (ii) distortion (e.g., manipulation of narratives, injection of conspiracies or rumors). Despite being outnumbered by several orders of magnitude, just a few thousands of bots generated spikes of conversations around real-world political events in all comparable with the volume of activity of humans. We discover that bots also exacerbate the consumption of content produced by users with their same political views, worsening the issue of political echo chambers. Furthermore, coordinated efforts carried out by Russia, China and other countries are hereby characterized. Finally, we draw a clear connection between bots, hyper-partisan media outlets, and conspiracy groups, suggesting the presence of systematic efforts to distort political narratives and propagate disinformation. Our findings may have impactful implications, shedding light on different forms of social media manipulation that may, altogether, ultimately pose a risk to the integrity of the election

    Auditing Elon Musk’s Impact on Hate Speech and Bots

    No full text
    On October 27th, 2022, Elon Musk purchased Twitter, becoming its new CEO and firing many top executives in the process. Musk listed fewer restrictions on content moderation and removal of spam bots among his goals for the platform. Given findings of prior research on moderation and hate speech in online communities, the promise of less strict content moderation poses the concern that hate will rise on Twitter. We examine the levels of hate speech and prevalence of bots before and after Musk's acquisition of the platform. We find that hate speech rose dramatically upon Musk purchasing Twitter and the prevalence of most types of bots increased, while the prevalence of astroturf bots decreased
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