APS tip sheet: Network dynamics of online polarization

Interaction dynamics reveals the mechanisms behind online polarization and social media echo chambers

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Credit: Baumann et al., Physical Review Letters (2020)

In the last decade, social media communities have become increasingly polarized. Now, scientists have created a model to explain the dynamics of radicalization. The research examines the appearance of online polarization and the Echo Chamber Effect — in which a person fortifies their beliefs by exclusively interacting with like-minded people. The model developed by Baumann et al. uses the premise that online users will radicalize when they segregate into a group with shared viewpoint. The model showed discourse online becomes less stable when echo chambers appear as well as when topics are more controversial. It also accurately replicated actual data from Twitter regarding polarization and debates. Studying how online polarization emerges can improve scientists’ understanding of social network dynamics.

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Modeling echo chambers and polarization dynamics in social networks

Fabian Baumann, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Igor M. Sokolov, and Michele Starnini

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