Collective attention in the age of (mis)information

Mocanu, Delia; Rossi, Luca; Zhang, Qian; Karsai, Marton Màrton; Quattrociocchi, Walter
In this work we study, on a sample of 2.3 million individuals, how Facebook users consumed different information at the edge of political discussion and news during the last Italian electoral competition. Pages are categorized, according to their topics and the communities of interests they pertain to, in a) alternative information sources (diffusing topics that are neglected by science and main stream media); b) online political activism; and c) main stream media. We show that attention patterns are similar despite the different qualitative nature of the information, meaning that unsubstantiated claims (mainly conspiracy theories) reverberate for as long as other information. Finally, we categorize users according to their interaction patterns among the different topics and measure how a sample of this social ecosystem (1279 users) responded to the injection of 2788 false information posts. Our analysis reveals that users which are prominently interacting with alternative information sources (i.e. more exposed to unsubstantiated claims) are more prone to interact with false claims.
Research areas:
Year:
2015
Type of Publication:
Article
Journal:
Computers in Human Behavior
Pages:
-
ISSN:
0747-5632
DOI:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.01.024
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