Diffusion network for the meme #tcot

The focus of this research project is understanding how information propagates through complex socio-technical information networks. Leveraging large-scale behavioral trace data from online social networking platforms we are able to analyze and model the spread of information, from political discourse to market trends, in unprecedented detail.

Our work to date includes a number of core research themes. Truthy is a web-based system to analyze and visualize the diffusion of information on Twitter. The Truthy system evaluates thousands of tweets an hour to identify new and emerging bursts of activity around memes of various flavors. Building on this foundation we have undertaken several analyses of political communication on Twitter, addressing political polarization and cross-ideological communication, the automated prediction of political affiliation from network and text data, and partisan asymmetries in online political engagement. Members of the Truthy team have successfully applied a custom psycholinguistic sentiment analysis framework to the problem of forecasting key market indicators, technology which now underpins the trading decisions of a $40 million investment fund.

The current focus of the project follows three directions:

  1. Expanding the platform to make the data more easily accessible and thus more useful to social scientists, reporters, and the general public.
  2. Modeling efforts to better understand how information spreads, why some memes go viral, the role of sentiment on the diffusion process, the mutual interaction between traffic on the network and the emergent structure of the network.
  3. Adopting network analysis methods in a machine learning framework to automatically detect astroturf in political campaigns.

In an ironic turn of events, the project has itself become the target of a disinformation campaign online and on TV. Read our post: The Truth about Truthy.

Truthy in the Press

People

Principal Investigators

Fil Menczer, PI

Fil Menczer

Sandro Flammini

Sandro Flammini

Alex Vespignani

Alex Vespignani

Johan Bollen

Research Team

Emilio

Emilio Ferrara

Huina Mao

Huina Mao

Lilian

Lilian Weng

Karissa McKelvey

Qian

Qian Zhang

Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis

Onur Varol

Onur Varol

Azadeh Nematzadeh

Azadeh Nematzadeh

Diego Fregolente

Diego Fregolente

Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia

Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia

Pablo Moriano

Pablo Moriano

Alumni

Michael Conover

Michael Conover

Ruby Wang

Alex R

Alex Rudnick

jiayiimg

Jiayi Zhu

Jacob Ratkiewicz

Jacob Ratkiewicz

Bruno Gonçalves

Bruno Gonçalves

Mark Meiss

Mark Meiss

Przemek

Snehal Patil

Luca Aiello

Papers

O Varol, E Ferrara, C Ogan, F Menczer and A Flammini
Evolution of online user behavior during a social upheaval. Proc. ACM Web Science Conference, 2014 (BEST PAPER AWARD)

Moriano, P; Ferrara, E; Flammini, A; Menczer, F
Dissemination of scholarly literature in social media. Altmetrics’14 Workshop, 2014

R Fulper, GL Ciampaglia, E Ferrara, F Menczer, YY Ahn, A Flammini, B Lewis and K Rowe
Misogynistic Language on Twitter and Sexual Violence. CHASM Workshop, 2014

X. Gao, E. Roth, K. McKelvey, C. Davis, A. Younge, E. Ferrara, F. Menczer, J. Qiu
Supporting a Social Media Observatory with Customizable Index Structures — Architecture and Performance. In Cloud Computing for Data Intensive Applications, Springer, 2014

S. Liu, N. Perra, M. Karsai, A. Vespignani
Controlling contagion processes in activity-driven networks. Physical Review Letter, 112:118702, 2014

M Karsai, N Perra, and A Vespignani
Time varying networks and the weakness of strong ties. Nature Sci. Rep., 4:4001, 2014

L. Weng, F. Menczer, and Y.-Y. Ahn
Virality Prediction and Community Structure in Social Networks. Nature Sci. Rep., (3) 2522, 2013 

E. Ferrara, O. Varol, F. Menczer, and A. Flammini
Traveling Trends: Social Butterflies or Frequent Fliers? In Proc. 1st ACM Conf. on Online Social Networks (COSN), pages 213–222, 2013

L. Weng and F. Menczer
Computational analysis of collective behaviors via agent-based modeling. In P. Michelucci, editor, Handbook of Human Computation, pages 761–767. Springer, 2013

J DiGrazia, K McKelvey, J Bollen, and F Rojas
More Tweets, More Votes: Social Media as a Quantitative Indicator of Political Behavior. PLoS ONE 8(11): e79449, 2013
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079449

Lilian Weng, Jacob Ratkiewicz, Nicola Perra, Bruno Goncalves, Carlos Castillo, Francesco Bonchi, Rossano Schifanella, Filippo Menczer, and Alessandro Flammini.
The role of information diffusion in the evolution of social networks. Proc. 19th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining KDD, 2013.
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Clustering Memes in Social Media. Proc. IEEE/ACM Intl. Conf. on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining ASONAM, 2013.

Q Zhang, N Perra, B Gonçalves, F Ciulla, and A Vespignani.
Characterizing scientific production and consumption in Physics. Nature Sci. Rep., (3) 1640, 2013.
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The Digital Evolution of Occupy Wall Street. PLoS ONE, (8)5:e64679, 2013.
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D Mocanu, A Baronchelli, N Perra, B Gonçalves, Q Zhang, et al.
The Twitter of Babel: Mapping World Languages through Microblogging Platforms. PLoS ONE, (8)4: e61981, 2013.
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Interoperability of Social Media Observatories. Web Science 2013, Web Observatory Workshop, May 5 2013.
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Design and Prototyping of a Social Media Observatory. WWW 2013, Web Observatory Workshop, May 17 2013.
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Conover MD, Davis C, Ferrara E, McKelvey K, Menczer F, Flammini A.
The Geospatial Characteristics of a Social Movement Communication Network. PLoS ONE 8(3): e55957, 2013.
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Truthy: Enabling the Study of Online Social Networks. CSCW 2013 Demonstration, 25 February 2013.
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Partisan Asymmetries in Online Political Activity. EPJ Data Science (1)6 18 June 2012.
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Competition among memes in a world with limited attention. Nature Sci. Rep., (2) 335, 2012.
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Modeling Dynamical Processes in Complex Socio-technical Systems. Nature Physics, 8, 32-39, 2012.
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Visualizing Communication on Social Media: Making Big Data Accessible. Proc. CSCW Workshop on Collective Intelligence as Community Discourse and Action, 2012.
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Detecting and Tracking Political Abuse in Social Media. Proc. 5th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media ICWSM, 2011.
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Political Polarization on Twitter. Proc. 5th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media ICWSM, 2011.
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Predicting the Political Alignment of Twitter Users. Proceedings of 3rd IEEE Conference on Social Computing SocialCom, 2011.
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Networks of Political Communication I: Multi-Mode Interactions in an Online Social Network. International School and Conference on Network Science NetSci, 2011.

Truthy: Mapping the Spread of Astroturf in Microblog Streams. Proc. 20th Intl. World Wide Web Conf. Companion WWW, 2011.
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Networks of Political Communication II: Partisan Engagement and Social Media. International School and Conference on Network Science NetSci, 2011.

Abuse of social media and political manipulation. In Markus Jakobsson (Eds.), The Death of The Internet, Wiley, 2012.

An Information Propagation Model Based on User Interests. In H. Sayama, A. Minai, D. Braha, and Y. Bar-Yam (Eds.), Unifying Themes in Complex Systems Volume VIII: Proc. 8th International Conference on Complex Systems ICCS, 2011.

Data and Software

Videos

Support

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Lilly Foundation (Data to Insight Center Research Grant), the National Science Foundation (ICES award CCF-1101743 on Meme Diffusion Through Mass Social Media), and the James S. McDonnell Foundation (complex systems grant on contagion of ideas in online social networks). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funding agencies.