Information access equality on generative models of complex networks

Xindi Wang, Onur Varol & Tina Eliassi-Rad 

Applied Network Science volume 7, Article number: 54 (2022)

It is well known that networks generated by common mechanisms such as preferential attachment and homophily can disadvantage the minority group by limiting their ability to establish links with the majority group. This has the effect of limiting minority nodes’ access to information. We present the results of an empirical study on the equality of information access in network models with different growth mechanisms and spreading processes. For growth mechanisms, we focus on the majority/minority dichotomy, homophily, preferential attachment, and diversity. For spreading processes, we investigate simple versus complex contagions, different transmission rates within and between groups, and various seeding conditions. We observe two phenomena. First, information access equality is a complex interplay between network structures and the spreading processes. Second, there is a trade-off between equality and efficiency of information access under certain circumstances (e.g., when inter-group edges are low and information transmits asymmetrically). Our findings can be used to make recommendations for mechanistic design of social networks with information access equality.

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