The effect of collective atention on controversial debates on social media

Kiran Garimella, Aristides Gionis, Gianmarco De Francisci Morales, Michael Mathioudakis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

We study the evolution of long-lived controversial debates as manifested on Twitter from 2011 to 2016. Specifically, we explore how the structure of interactions and content of discussion varies with the level of collective attention, as evidenced by the number of users discussing a topic. Spikes in the volume of users typically correspond to external events that increase the public attention on the topic - as, for instance, discussions about 'gun control' often erupt after a mass shooting. This work is the first to study the dynamic evolution of polarized online debates at such scale. By employing a wide array of network and content analysis measures, we find consistent evidence that increased collective attention is associated with increased network polarization and network concentration within each side of the debate; and overall more uniform lexicon usage across all users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWebSci 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Web Science Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Pages43-52
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450348966
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 25 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event9th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2017 - Troy, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

Publication series

NameWebSci 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Web Science Conference

Conference

Conference9th ACM Web Science Conference, WebSci 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityTroy
Period6/25/176/28/17

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications

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