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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2020-03-09
    Description: Background: Hashtags are widely used for communication in online media. As a condensed version of information, they characterize topics and discussions. For their analysis, we apply methods from network science and propose novel tools for tracing their dynamics in time-dependent data. The observations are characterized by bursty behaviors in the increases and decreases of hashtag usage. These features can be reproduced with a novel model of dynamic rankings. Hashtag communities in time: We build temporal and weighted co-occurrence networks from hashtags. On static snapshots, we infer the community structure using customized methods. On temporal networks, we solve the bipartite matching problem of detected communities at subsequent timesteps by taking into account higher-order memory. This results in a matching protocol that is robust toward temporal fluctuations and instabilities of the static community detection. The proposed methodology is broadly applicable and its outcomes reveal the temporal behavior of online topics. Modeling topic-dynamics: We consider the size of the communities in time as a proxy for online popularity dynamics. We find that the distributions of gains and losses, as well as the interevent times are fat-tailed indicating occasional, but large and sudden changes in the usage of hashtags. Inspired by typical website designs, we propose a stochastic model that incorporates a ranking with respect to a time-dependent prestige score. This causes occasional cascades of rank shift events and reproduces the observations with good agreement. This offers an explanation for the observed dynamics, based on characteristic elements of online media.
    Language: English
    Type: article , doc-type:article
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2023-02-02
    Description: Digital communication has made the public discourse considerably more complex, and new actors and strategies have emerged as a result of this seismic shift. Aside from the often-studied interactions among individuals during opinion formation, which have been facilitated on a large scale by social media platforms, the changing role of traditional media and the emerging role of "influencers" are not well understood, and the implications of their engagement strategies arising from the incentive structure of the attention economy even less so. Here we propose a novel opinion dynamics model that accounts for these different roles, namely that media and influencers change their own positions on slower time scales than individuals, while influencers dynamically gain and lose followers. Numerical simulations show the importance of their relative influence in creating qualitatively different opinion formation dynamics: with influencers, fragmented but short-lived clusters emerge, which are then counteracted by more stable media positions. Mean-field approximations by partial differential equations reproduce this dynamic. Based on the mean-field model, we study how strategies of influencers to gain more followers can influence the overall opinion distribution. We show that moving towards extreme positions can be a beneficial strategy for influencers to gain followers. Finally, we demonstrate that optimal control strategies allow other influencers or media to counteract such attempts and prevent further fragmentation of the opinion landscape. Our modelling framework contributes to better understanding the different roles and strategies in the increasingly complex information ecosystem and their impact on public opinion formation.
    Language: English
    Type: article , doc-type:article
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