Logo eprints

The spreading of misinformation online

Del Vicario, Michela and Bessi, Alessandro and Zollo, Fabiana and Petroni, Fabio and Scala, Antonio and Caldarelli, Guido and Stanley, H. Eugene and Quattrociocchi, Walter The spreading of misinformation online. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (3). pp. 554-559. ISSN 1091-6490 (2016)

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (786kB) | Preview


The wide availability of user-provided content in online social media facilitates the aggregation of people around common interests, worldviews, and narratives. However, the World Wide Web (WWW) also allows for the rapid dissemination of unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories that often elicit rapid, large, but naive social responses such as the recent case of Jade Helm 15––where a simple military exercise turned out to be perceived as the beginning of a new civil war in the United States. In this work, we address the determinants governing misinformation spreading through a thorough quantitative analysis. In particular, we focus on how Facebook users consume information related to two distinct narratives: scientific and conspiracy news. We find that, although consumers of scientific and conspiracy stories present similar consumption patterns with respect to content, cascade dynamics differ. Selective exposure to content is the primary driver of content diffusion and generates the formation of homogeneous clusters, i.e., “echo chambers.” Indeed, homogeneity appears to be the primary driver for the diffusion of contents and each echo chamber has its own cascade dynamics. Finally, we introduce a data-driven percolation model mimicking rumor spreading and we show that homogeneity and polarization are the main determinants for predicting cascades’ size.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.1517441113
Uncontrolled Keywords: Misinformation, Virality, Facebook, Rumor spreading, Cascades
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Depositing User: Caterina Tangheroni
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2016 08:51
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2016 09:37
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/3020

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item