Analysis of Information Diffusion through Social Media

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Virginia Tech


The changes in the course of communication changed the world from different perspectives. Public participation on social media means the generation, diffusion, and exposure to a tremendous amount of user-generated content without supervision. This four-essay dissertation analyzes information diffusion through social media and its opportunities and challenges through management systems engineering and data analytics. First, we evaluate how information can be shared to reach maximum exposure for the case on online petitions. We use system dynamics modeling and propose policies for campaign managers to schedule the reminders they send to have the highest number of petition signatures. We find that sending reminders is more effective in the case of increasing the signature rate. In the second essay, we investigate how people build trust/ mistrust in science during an emergency. We use data analytics methods on more than 700,000 tweets containing keywords of Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two candidate medicines, to prevent and cure patients infected with COVID-19. We show that people's opinions are concentrated in the case of polarity and spread out in the case of subjectivity. Also, they tend to share subjective tweets than objective ones. In the third essay, building on the same dataset as essay two, we study the changes in science communication during the coronavirus pandemic. We used topic modeling and clustered the tweets into seven different groups. Our analysis suggests that a highly scientific and health-related subject can become political in the case of an emergency. We found that the groups of medical information and research and study have fewer tweets than the political one. Fourth, we investigated fake news diffusion as one of the main challenges of user-generated content. We built a system dynamics model and analyzed the effects of competition and correction in combating fake news. We show that correction of misinformation and competition in fake news needs a high percentage of participation to be effective enough to deal with fake news.



Social Media, Information, Misinformation, Communication, System Dynamics, Data Analytics, Natural Language Processing