Davis, Jessica, Perra, Nicola, Zhang, Qian, Moreno, Yamir and Vespignani, Alessandro (2020) Phase transitions in information spreading on structured populations. Nature Physics. ISSN 1745-2473 (Print), 1745-2481 (Online) (In Press)
Mathematical models of social contagion that incorporate networks of human interactions have become increasingly popular, however, very few approaches have tackled the challenges of including complex and realistic properties of socio-technical systems. In this work we define a framework to characterize the dynamics of the Maki-Thompson rumor spreading model in structured populations, and analytically find a previously uncharacterized dynamical phase transition that separates the local and global contagion regimes. We validate our threshold prediction through extensive Monte Carlo simulations. Furthermore, we apply this framework in two real-world systems, the European commuting and transportation network and the Digital Bibliography and Library Project (DBLP) collaboration network. Our findings highlight the importance of the underlying population structure in understanding social contagion phenomena and have the potential to define new intervention strategies aimed at hindering or facilitating the diffusion of information in socio-technical systems.