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Debunking in a World of Tribes

Zollo, Fabiana and Bessi, Alessandro and Del Vicario, Michela and Scala, Antonio and Caldarelli, Guido and Shekhtman, Louis and Havlin, Shlomo and Quattrociocchi, Walter Debunking in a World of Tribes. Working Paper ArXiv (Submitted)

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Recently a simple military exercise on the Internet was perceived as the beginning of a new civil war in the US. Social media aggregate people around common interests eliciting a collective framing of narratives and worldviews. However, the wide availability of user-provided content and the direct path between producers and consumers of information often foster confusion about causations, encouraging mistrust, rumors, and even conspiracy thinking. In order to contrast such a trend attempts to \textit{debunk} are often undertaken. Here, we examine the effectiveness of debunking through a quantitative analysis of 54 million users over a time span of five years (Jan 2010, Dec 2014). In particular, we compare how users interact with proven (scientific) and unsubstantiated (conspiracy-like) information on Facebook in the US. Our findings confirm the existence of echo chambers where users interact primarily with either conspiracy-like or scientific pages. Both groups interact similarly with the information within their echo chamber. We examine 47,780 debunking posts and find that attempts at debunking are largely ineffective. For one, only a small fraction of usual consumers of unsubstantiated information interact with the posts. Furthermore, we show that those few are often the most committed conspiracy users and rather than internalizing debunking information, they often react to it negatively. Indeed, after interacting with debunking posts, users retain, or even increase, their engagement within the conspiracy echo chamber.

Item Type: Working Paper (Working Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Human-Computer Interaction, Social and Information Networks
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Research Area: Economics and Institutional Change
Depositing User: Caterina Tangheroni
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2015 15:00
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2015 15:00
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/2788

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