105 research outputs found

    Social determinants of content selection in the age of (mis)information

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    Despite the enthusiastic rhetoric about the so called \emph{collective intelligence}, conspiracy theories -- e.g. global warming induced by chemtrails or the link between vaccines and autism -- find on the Web a natural medium for their dissemination. Users preferentially consume information according to their system of beliefs and the strife within users of opposite narratives may result in heated debates. In this work we provide a genuine example of information consumption from a sample of 1.2 million of Facebook Italian users. We show by means of a thorough quantitative analysis that information supporting different worldviews -- i.e. scientific and conspiracist news -- are consumed in a comparable way by their respective users. Moreover, we measure the effect of the exposure to 4709 evidently false information (satirical version of conspiracy theses) and to 4502 debunking memes (information aiming at contrasting unsubstantiated rumors) of the most polarized users of conspiracy claims. We find that either contrasting or teasing consumers of conspiracy narratives increases their probability to interact again with unsubstantiated rumors.Comment: misinformation, collective narratives, crowd dynamics, information spreadin

    Recursive patterns in online echo chambers

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    Despite their entertainment oriented purpose, social media changed the way users access information, debate, and form their opinions. Recent studies, indeed, showed that users online tend to promote their favored narratives and thus to form polarized groups around a common system of beliefs. Confirmation bias helps to account for users’ decisions about whether to spread content, thus creating informational cascades within identifiable communities. At the same time, aggregation of favored information within those communities reinforces selective exposure and group polarization. Along this path, through a thorough quantitative analysis we approach connectivity patterns of 1.2 M Facebook users engaged with two very conflicting narratives: scientific and conspiracy news. Analyzing such data, we quantitatively investigate the effect of two mechanisms (namely challenge avoidance and reinforcement seeking) behind confirmation bias, one of the major drivers of human behavior in social media. We find that challenge avoidance mechanism triggers the emergence of two distinct and polarized groups of users (i.e., echo chambers) who also tend to be surrounded by friends having similar systems of beliefs. Through a network based approach, we show how the reinforcement seeking mechanism limits the influence of neighbors and primarily drives the selection and diffusion of contents even among like-minded users, thus fostering the formation of highly polarized sub-clusters within the same echo chamber. Finally, we show that polarized users reinforce their preexisting beliefs by leveraging the activity of their like-minded neighbors, and this trend grows with the user engagement suggesting how peer influence acts as a support for reinforcement seeking

    The limited reach of fake news on Twitter during 2019 European elections

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    The advent of social media changed the way we consume content, favoring a disintermediated access to, and production of information. This scenario has been matter of critical discussion about its impact on society, magnified in the case of the Arab Springs or heavily criticized during Brexit and the 2016 U.S. elections. In this work we explore information consumption on Twitter during the 2019 European Parliament electoral campaign by analyzing the interaction patterns of official news outlets, disinformation outlets, politicians, people from the showbiz and many others. We extensively explore interactions among different classes of accounts in the months preceding the elections, held between 23rd and 26th of May, 2019. We collected almost 400,000 tweets posted by 863 accounts having different roles in the public society. Through a thorough quantitative analysis we investigate the information flow among them, also exploiting geolocalized information. Accounts show the tendency to confine their interaction within the same class and the debate rarely crosses national borders. Moreover, we do not find evidence of an organized network of accounts aimed at spreading disinformation. Instead, disinformation outlets are largely ignored by the other actors and hence play a peripheral role in online political discussions

    Economic and social consequences of human mobility restrictions under COVID-19

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    In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, several national governments have applied lockdown restrictions to reduce the infection rate. Here we perform a massive analysis on near-real-time Italian mobility data provided by Facebook to investigate how lockdown strategies affect economic conditions of individuals and local governments. We model the change in mobility as an exogenous shock similar to a natural disaster. We identify two ways through which mobility restrictions affect Italian citizens. First, we find that the impact of lockdown is stronger in municipalities with higher fiscal capacity. Second, we find evidence of a segregation effect, since mobility contraction is stronger in municipalities in which inequality is higher and for those where individuals have lower income per capita. Our results highlight both the social costs of lockdown and a challenge of unprecedented intensity: On the one hand, the crisis is inducing a sharp reduction of fiscal revenues for both national and local governments; on the other hand, a significant fiscal effort is needed to sustain the most fragile individuals and to mitigate the increase in poverty and inequality induced by the lockdown

    Growing polarization around climate change on social media

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    Climate change and political polarization are two of the twenty-first century’s critical socio-political issues. Here we investigate their intersection by studying the discussion around the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP) using Twitter data from 2014 to 2021. First, we reveal a large increase in ideological polarization during COP26, following low polarization between COP20 and COP25. Second, we show that this increase is driven by growing right-wing activity, a fourfold increase since COP21 relative to pro-climate groups. Finally, we identify a broad range of ‘climate contrarian’ views during COP26, emphasizing the theme of political hypocrisy as a topic of cross-ideological appeal; contrarian views and accusations of hypocrisy have become key themes in the Twitter climate discussion since 2019. With future climate action reliant on negotiations at COP27 and beyond, our results highlight the importance of monitoring polarization and its impacts in the public climate discourse

    Debunking in a world of tribes

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    Social media aggregate people around common interests eliciting collective framing of narratives and worldviews. However, in such a disintermediated environment misinformation is pervasive and attempts to debunk are often undertaken to contrast this trend. In this work, we examine the effectiveness of debunking on Facebook through a quantitative analysis of 54 million users over a time span of five years (Jan 2010, Dec 2014). In particular, we compare how users usually consuming proven (scientific) and unsubstantiated (conspiracy-like) information on Facebook US interact with specific debunking posts. Our findings confirm the existence of echo chambers where users interact primarily with either conspiracy-like or scientific pages. However, both groups interact similarly with the information within their echo chamber. Then, we measure how users from both echo chambers interacted with 50,220 debunking posts accounting for both users consumption patterns and the sentiment expressed in their comments. Sentiment analysis reveals a dominant negativity in the comments to debunking posts. Furthermore, such posts remain mainly confined to the scientific echo chamber. Only few conspiracy users engage with corrections and their liking and commenting rates on conspiracy posts increases after the interaction

    Opinion dynamics: models, extensions and external effects

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    Recently, social phenomena have received a lot of attention not only from social scientists, but also from physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists, in the emerging interdisciplinary field of complex system science. Opinion dynamics is one of the processes studied, since opinions are the drivers of human behaviour, and play a crucial role in many global challenges that our complex world and societies are facing: global financial crises, global pandemics, growth of cities, urbanisation and migration patterns, and last but not least important, climate change and environmental sustainability and protection. Opinion formation is a complex process affected by the interplay of different elements, including the individual predisposition, the influence of positive and negative peer interaction (social networks playing a crucial role in this respect), the information each individual is exposed to, and many others. Several models inspired from those in use in physics have been developed to encompass many of these elements, and to allow for the identification of the mechanisms involved in the opinion formation process and the understanding of their role, with the practical aim of simulating opinion formation and spreading under various conditions. These modelling schemes range from binary simple models such as the voter model, to multi-dimensional continuous approaches. Here, we provide a review of recent methods, focusing on models employing both peer interaction and external information, and emphasising the role that less studied mechanisms, such as disagreement, has in driving the opinion dynamics. [...]Comment: 42 pages, 6 figure
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