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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 14;10(8):e0134641. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134641. eCollection 2015.

Trend of Narratives in the Age of Misinformation.

Author information

1
IUSS Institute for Advanced Study, Pavia, Italy; Laboratory of Computational Social Science, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy.
2
Laboratory of Computational Social Science, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy.
3
Laboratory of Computational Social Science, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy; ISC-CNR UoS Sapienza, Roma, Italy.
4
Laboratory of Computational Social Science, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies, Lucca, Italy; ISC-CNR UoS Sapienza, Roma, Italy; London Institute of Mathematical Science, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Social media enabled a direct path from producer to consumer of contents changing the way users get informed, debate, and shape their worldviews. Such a disintermediation might weaken consensus on social relevant issues in favor of rumors, mistrust, or conspiracy thinking-e.g., chem-trails inducing global warming, the link between vaccines and autism, or the New World Order conspiracy. Previous studies pointed out that consumers of conspiracy-like content are likely to aggregate in homophile clusters-i.e., echo-chambers. Along this path we study, by means of a thorough quantitative analysis, how different topics are consumed inside the conspiracy echo-chamber in the Italian Facebook. Through a semi-automatic topic extraction strategy, we show that the most consumed contents semantically refer to four specific categories: environment, diet, health, and geopolitics. We find similar consumption patterns by comparing users activity (likes and comments) on posts belonging to these different semantic categories. Finally, we model users mobility across the distinct topics finding that the more a user is active, the more he is likely to span on all categories. Once inside a conspiracy narrative users tend to embrace the overall corpus.

PMID:
26275043
PMCID:
PMC4537127
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0134641
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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