Towards Understanding the Information Ecosystem Through the Lens of Multiple Web Communities

by   Savvas Zannettou, et al.

The Web consists of numerous Web communities, news sources, and services, which are often exploited by various entities for the dissemination of false information. Yet, we lack tools and techniques to effectively track the propagation of information across the multiple diverse communities, and to model the interplay and influence between them. Also, we lack an understanding of what the role and impact of emerging communities and services on the Web are, and how such communities are exploited by bad actors that spread false and weaponized information. In this thesis, we study the information ecosystem on the Web by presenting a typology that includes the various types of false information, the involved actors and their possible motives. Then, we follow a data-driven cross-platform quantitative approach to analyze billions of posts from Twitter, Reddit, 4chan's /pol/, and Gab, to shed light on: 1) how news and memes travel from one Web community to another and how we can model and quantify the influence between Web communities; 2) characterizing the role of emerging Web communities and services on the Web, by studying Gab and two Web archiving services, namely the Wayback Machine and; and 3) how popular Web communities are exploited by state-sponsored actors for the purpose of spreading disinformation. Our analysis reveal that fringe Web communities like 4chan's /pol/ and The_Donald subreddit have a disproportionate influence on mainstream communities like Twitter with regard to the dissemination of news and memes. We find that Gab acts as the new hub for the alt-right community, while for Web archiving services we find that they can be misused to penalize ad revenue from news sources with conflicting ideology. Finally, when studying state-sponsored actors, we find that they were particularly influential in spreading news on popular communities like Twitter and Reddit.



There are no comments yet.


page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4


A Multi-Platform Analysis of Political News Discussion and Sharing on Web Communities

The news ecosystem has become increasingly complex, encompassing a wide ...

Understanding Web Archiving Services and Their (Mis)Use on Social Media

Either by ensuring the continuing availability of information, or by del...

On the Origins of Memes by Means of Fringe Web Communities

Internet memes are increasingly used to sway and possibly manipulate pub...

A Quantitative Approach to Understanding Online Antisemitism

A new wave of growing antisemitism, driven by fringe Web communities, is...

What is Gab? A Bastion of Free Speech or an Alt-Right Echo Chamber?

Over the past few years new "fringe" communities have been created and g...

The Gospel According to Q: Understanding the QAnon Conspiracy from the Perspective of Canonical Information

The QAnon conspiracy theory claims that a cabal of (literally) bloodthir...

The Web of False Information: Rumors, Fake News, Hoaxes, Clickbait, and Various Other Shenanigans

A new era of Information Warfare has arrived. Various actors, including ...
This week in AI

Get the week's most popular data science and artificial intelligence research sent straight to your inbox every Saturday.