News and fake news in a connected world

Investigating the adverse effects of information asymmetry and deliberate errors in social media and the press, and attempts to remedy them.

Social media is eradicating physical separation as a barrier to communication. The result is a world that is highly virtually connected. There are direct paths between producers and consumers of content, as well as ways to monitor an audience’s responses and reactions.

In this project, we investigate how the collective behaviour of social media users can be understood based on their data footprints. We study how users interact with news and fake news, and the effect of interventions to debunk the latter. Using data from a vast set of Facebook users, we identify distinct groups who follow either scientific or conspiracy-based content. Our analysis reveals how each polarised group responds to material aiming to discredit false rumours. We use Twitter data to attribute users’ online engagement with a political party to either support or opposition. Trends in long-term data can predict outcomes of political elections, whereas short-term data is unreliable.

The real-time flow of social media data offers a unique opportunity to understand a population’s sentiment towards ideas. Predicting their reaction to content can inform political and commercial decisions. It can also help curb false belief based on nonfactual sources and its propagation.

News and fake news in a connected world

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