Preprint Article Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Exploring how Homophily and Accessibility can Facilitate Polarization in Social Networks

Version 1 : Received: 30 October 2018 / Approved: 31 October 2018 / Online: 31 October 2018 (08:18:52 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 14 December 2018 / Approved: 17 December 2018 / Online: 17 December 2018 (10:11:31 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Taylor, C.E.; Mantzaris, A.V.; Garibay, I. Exploring How Homophily and Accessibility Can Facilitate Polarization in Social Networks. Information 2018, 9, 325. Taylor, C.E.; Mantzaris, A.V.; Garibay, I. Exploring How Homophily and Accessibility Can Facilitate Polarization in Social Networks. Information 2018, 9, 325.

Journal reference: Information 2018, 9, 325
DOI: 10.3390/info9120325

Abstract

Polarization in online social networks has gathered a significant amount of attention in the research community and in the public sphere due to stark disagreements with millions of participants in topics surrounding politics, climate, the economy and other areas where an agreement is required. There are multiple approaches to investigating the scenarios in which polarization occurs and given that polarization is not a new phenomenon but that its virality may be supported by the low cost and latency messaging offered by online social media platforms; an investigation into the intrinsic dynamics of online opinion evolution is presented for complete networks. Extending a model which utilizes the Binary Voter Model (BVM) to examine the effect of the degree of freedom for selecting contacts based upon homophily, simulations show that different opinions are reinforced for a period of time when users have a greater range of choice for association. The facility of discussion threads and groups formed upon common views further delays the rate in which a consensus can form between all members of the network. This can temporarily incubate members from interacting with those who can present an alternative opinion where a voter model would then proceed to produce a homogeneous opinion based upon pairwise interactions.

Subject Areas

political polarization; echo-chambers; social networks; binary voter model; discussion dynamics; opinion dynamics model

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