In our paper on Competition among memes in a world with limited attention in Nature Scientific Reports, Lilian Weng and coauthors Sandro Flammini, Alex Vespignani, and Fil Menczer report that we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas. The findings have been mentioned in the popular press, including Information Week, The Atlantic, and the Dutch daily NRC.
Prof. Flammini (PI) and Menczer have been awarded a three-year, $2M grant from DARPA in the context of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, whose primary goal is “to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base,” Our IU unit leads a three-group team that includes collaborators at Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Lab and the University of Michigan. The funded project is aimed at designing and implementing a system to detect online persuasion campaigns.
We’re pleased to report several exciting developments in our interdisciplinary project studying information diffusion in complex online social networks. The past year has resulted in several publications. Our results on the Truthy astroturf monitoring and detection system were presented at WWW 2011 and ICWSM 2011. Research into the polarized network structure of political communication on Twitter was presented at ICWSM and received the 2011 CITASA Best Student Paper Honorable Mention. We demonstrated the feasibility of the prediction of individuals’ political affiliation from network and text data (SocialCom 2011), a machine learning application that enables large-scale instrumentation of nearly 20,000 individuals’ political behaviors, policy foci, and geospatial distribution (Journal of Information Technology and Politics). We’re also working on a paper on partisan asymmetries in online political activity surrounding the 2010 U.S. congressional midterm elections.
Our results have been widely covered in the press, including the Wall Street Journal, Science, Communications of the ACM, NPR [1,2], The Chronicle of Higher Education, Discover Magazine, The Atlantic, New Scientist, MIT Technology Review, and many more.
Current and future research is supported by an award from the NSF Interface between Computer Science and Economics & Social Sciences program, and a McDonnell Foundation grant. The former will focus on building an infrastructure for the study of information diffusion in social media, the characterization of meme spread patterns, and the development of sentiment analysis tools for social media. The latter will focus on modeling efforts, especially agent-based models of information diffusion, competition for attention, and the relationship between information sharing events and social network evolution.
Astroturfers, Twitter-bombers and smear campaigners need beware this election season as a group of leading Indiana University information and computer scientists today unleashed Truthy.indiana.edu, a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation leading up to the Nov. 2 elections. Combing through thousands of tweets per hour in search of political keywords, the team based out of IU’s School of Informatics and Computing will isolate patterns of interest and then insert those memes (ideas or patterns passed by imitation) into Twitter’s application programming interface (API) to obtain more information about the meme’s history.
In the run-up to the mid-term elections, Truthy uncovered a number of abuses such as robot-driven traffic to politician websites and networks of bot accounts controlled by individuals to promote fake news. These findings have been widely covered in the press, with mentions in The Atlantic, MIT Technology Review, PC World, New Scientist, NPR, Ars Technica, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine, and many other media. Read more here and here.
Fil Menczer is one of the organizers of Hypertext 2009, the 20th ACM Conference on Hypertext an Hypermedia. The conference will be held June 29-July 1 at the Villa Gualino Convention Centre, on the hills overlooking Torino, Italy. Hypertext is the main venue for high quality peer-reviewed research on “linking.” The Web, the Semantic Web, the Web 2.0, and Social Networks are all manifestations of the success of the link. With a 70% increase in submissions, Hypertext 2009 will have a strong and diverse technical program covering all research concerning links: their semantics, their presentation, the applications, as well as the knowledge that can be derived from their analysis and their effects on society. The conference will also feature demos, posters, a student research competition, four workshops, and keynotes by Lada Adamic and Ricardo Baeza-Yates.
Research and Creativity Activity profiles research by CNetS faculty Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Vespignani and their groups in a special issue on networks. More…
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Networks & agents Network (NaN)
NaN is a research group exploring the modeling, simulation, and analysis of complex social and information networks, and the human and artificial agents who live in these networks. Broadly speaking our research spans network science, data science, web science, and computational social science. Recently our focus has been on modeling the dynamic processes that occur online (how information networks grow and evolve, how memes go viral, how social media can be manipulated for the spread of misinformation, how attention bursts and other traffic patterns emerge, etc.) and on the design of tools to make the Web and social media ‘better’ (more trustworthy, reliable, intelligent, autonomous, robust, personalized, contextual, scalable, adaptive, and so on). We collaborate with colleagues at the IU Network Science Institute (IUNI), ISI Foundation, Yahoo Research, and many other institutions.
Active NaN projects
Archived NaN projects
The Workshop on Theoretical Aspects and Models of Large, Complex and Open Information Networks just ended at ISI. There were lots of interesting talks. I presented Mark’s work on the Web click network, and Ben talked about GiveALink. Thanks to the organizers, especially Alain Barrat, as well as the ISI staff for a smooth and fun program!