Nav: Home

Algorithm can create a bridge between Clinton and Trump supporters

February 16, 2017

Twitter case study aims to minimize the controversies.

A growing number of people have expressed their concern about high levels of polarization in the society. For instance, the World Economic Forum's report on global risks lists the increasing societal polarization as a threat - and others have suggested that social media might be contributing to this phenomenon. The article that received the best student-paper award in the Tenth International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM 2017) builds algorithmic techniques to mitigate the rising polarization by connecting people with opposing views - and evaluates them on Twitter.

The research models user interactions around a given topic such as US elections or Obamacare on Twitter as an endorsement graph, nodes representing the Twitter users. One commonly observed feature of such graphs is that, for controversial topics, the structure of the graph is strongly biclustered. The research suggests bridges between users of opposing sides, so as to effectively minimize the polarization. Bridges can be used to provide users with recommendations about who to retweet.

"We are the first to propose a thoroughly algorithmic solution, which can be applied on a large-scale and is language- and domain-independent. The main algorithm is based on the finding that for a special type of network simulating a polarized network, the best bridges we can add to the network are between the nodes with the highest degrees on either side", explains professor Aristides Gionis from Aalto University Department of Computer Science.

Possible bridges in the case of US elections

Since the study deals with retweet networks, high-degree users usually are the ones who are well known and have many followers. In the case of US elections, the two sides would be the democrats and republicans and the highest degree users would be Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on either side, respectively. It is not practical to recommend that Clinton would follow Trump, so even though in theory these are the best edges, they might not materialize in the real world.

"When applied on Twitter discussions around the US election results, the algorithm suggests that creating a bridge between @hillaryclinton and @breitbartnews would reduce polarization the most. However, taking into account how likely such a bridge is to materialize, the algorithm suggests that other bridges between less prominent Twitter accounts, for instance liberal journalist @mtracey and conservative activist @rightwingangel show better potential", describes researcher Kiran Garimella.

The research approach of Kiran Garimella, Gianmarco De Francisci Morales, Aristides Gionis and Michael Mathioudakis performs better than existing ones, in terms of bringing the two sides closer. Though earlier studies have tried to address the problem of how to recommend content to an ideologically opposite side, researchers of Aalto University, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT and Qatar Computing Research Institute intend to move from who to what to recommend in their future studies.
-end-
More information:

Kiran Garimella
Researcher
Aalto University
kiran.garimella@aalto.fi
Tel. +358 50 430 4933

Aristides Gionis
Professor
Aalto University
aristides.gionis@aalto.fi
Tel. +358 50 430 1651

Article: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3018703&CFID=728607066&CFTOKEN=25783718

Department of Computer Science: http://cs.aalto.fi/

Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT http://www.hiit.fi/

Picture: Endorsement network of US Elections: each dot indicates a Twitter user and a line between two dots indicates that one user retweeted the other. The two sides, red - republicans and blue - democrats do not endorse each other, while endorsing their own sides heavily. Picture: Kiran Garimella / Aalto University.

Aalto University

Related Twitter Articles:

Researchers use Twitter to track the flu in real time
An international team led by Northeastern University professor Alessandro Vespignani has developed a unique computational model to project the spread of the seasonal flu in real time.
As scientists take to Twitter, study shows power of 'visual abstract' graphics
When it comes to sharing new research findings with the world, Twitter has emerged as a key tool for scientists -- and for the journals where they publish their findings.
Twitter could have predicted the outcome of the Brexit vote
Leave campaigners were not only victorious in the June 2016 Brexit vote but also in the battle of the twittersphere, a new study in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations reports.
Spreading rumors on Twitter and mistaking retweets for truth
A new study of the believability of information received via Twitter and the intention to pass on a tweet -- whether news or rumor -- is influenced by the number of times the information has already been retweeted.
Twitter researchers offer clues as to why Trump won
University of Rochester computer scientists were able to shed light on how Trump won the presidential election by using data science to track the millions of Twitter followers who liked or 'unliked' the candidates throughout the campaign.
Finding credibility clues on Twitter
By scanning 66 million tweets linked to nearly 1,400 real-world events, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have built a language model that identifies words and phrases that lead to strong or weak perceived levels of credibility on Twitter.
New public tool uses Twitter posts to gain insights about marijuana use
Journalists, researchers, policymakers, and the public looking to gain new insights about the use of marijuana can now turn to CannabisConvo.
More are positive about HPV vaccine on Twitter than not, Drexel study finds
A Drexel University study into sentiments toward the HPV vaccine on Twitter found that significantly more tweets post positive sentiments toward vaccines, such as the value of prevention and protection, than not.
Tweeting #plasticsurgery -- plastic surgeons urged to engage and educate on twitter
Twitter has become an important resource for people seeking information about plastic surgery.
What Twitter behavior accompanies mental health crises?
A new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association indicates that there were two specific types of heightened Twitter discussions in 2014 related to mental health: expected increases in response to planned behavioral health events and unexpected increases in response to unanticipated events.

Related Twitter Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...