Tag: social media

Right and left, partisanship predicts (asymmetric) vulnerability to misinformation

We analyze the relationship between partisanship, echo chambers, and vulnerability to online misinformation by studying news sharing behavior on Twitter. While our results confirm prior findings that online misinformation sharing is strongly correlated with right-leaning partisanship, we also uncover a similar, though weaker, trend among left-leaning users. Because of the correlation between a user’s partisanship and their position within a partisan echo chamber, these types of influence are confounded. To disentangle their effects, we performed a regression analysis and found that vulnerability to misinformation is most strongly influenced by partisanship for both left- and right-leaning users.

Read the full article at: misinforeview.hks.harvard.edu

The Manufacture of Political Echo Chambers by Follow Train Abuse on Twitter

Christopher Torres-Lugo, Kai-Cheng Yang, Filippo Menczer

A growing body of evidence points to critical vulnerabilities of social media, such as the emergence of partisan echo chambers and the viral spread of misinformation. We show that these vulnerabilities are amplified by abusive behaviors associated with so-called ”follow trains” on Twitter, in which long lists of like-minded accounts are mentioned for others to follow. This leads to the formation of highly dense and hierarchical echo chambers. We present the first systematic analysis of U.S. political train networks, which involve many thousands of hyper-partisan accounts. These accounts engage in various suspicious behaviors, including some that violate platform policies: we find evidence of inauthentic automated accounts, artificial inflation of friends and followers, and abnormal content deletion. The networks are also responsible for amplifying toxic content from low-credibility and conspiratorial sources. Platforms may be reluctant to curb this kind of abuse for fear of being accused of political bias. As a result, the political echo chambers manufactured by follow trains grow denser and train accounts accumulate influence; even political leaders occasionally engage with them.

Shared Partisanship Dramatically Increases Social Tie Formation in a Twitter Field Experiment

Mohsen Mosleh, Cameron Martel, Dean Eckles, David G. Rand

 

Americans are much more likely to be socially connected to co-partisans, both in daily life and on social media. But this observation does not necessarily mean that shared partisanship per se drives social tie formation, because partisanship is confounded with many other factors. Here, we test the causal effect of shared partisanship on the formation of social ties in a field experiment on Twitter. We created bot accounts that self-identified as people who favored the Democratic or Republican party, and that varied in the strength of that identification. We then randomly assigned 842 Twitter users to be followed by one of our accounts. Users were roughly three times more likely to reciprocally follow-back bots whose partisanship matched their own, and this was true regardless of the bot’s strength of identification. Interestingly, there was no partisan asymmetry in this preferential follow-back behavior: Democrats and Republicans alike were much more likely to reciprocate follows from co-partisans. These results demonstrate a strong causal effect of shared partisanship on the formation of social ties in an ecologically valid field setting, and have important implications for political psychology, social media, and the politically polarized state of the American public.

 

Source: psyarxiv.com

Social influence and unfollowing accelerate the emergence of echo chambers

Kazutoshi Sasahara, Wen Chen, Hao Peng, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Alessandro Flammini & Filippo Menczer
Journal of Computational Social Science (2020)

 

While social media make it easy to connect with and access information from anyone, they also facilitate basic influence and unfriending mechanisms that may lead to segregated and polarized clusters known as “echo chambers.” Here we study the conditions in which such echo chambers emerge by introducing a simple model of information sharing in online social networks with the two ingredients of influence and unfriending. Users can change both their opinions and social connections based on the information to which they are exposed through sharing. The model dynamics show that even with minimal amounts of influence and unfriending, the social network rapidly devolves into segregated, homogeneous communities. These predictions are consistent with empirical data from Twitter. Although our findings suggest that echo chambers are somewhat inevitable given the mechanisms at play in online social media, they also provide insights into possible mitigation strategies.

Source: link.springer.com