Attention Inequality in Social Media [article]

Linhong Zhu, Kristina Lerman
2016 arXiv   pre-print
Social media can be viewed as a social system where the currency is attention. People post content and interact with others to attract attention and gain new followers. In this paper, we examine the distribution of attention across a large sample of users of a popular social media site Twitter. Through empirical analysis of these data we conclude that attention is very unequally distributed: the top 20\% of Twitter users own more than 96\% of all followers, 93\% of the retweets, and 93\% of the
more » ... mentions. We investigate the mechanisms that lead to attention inequality and find that it results from the "rich-get-richer" and "poor-get-poorer" dynamics of attention diffusion. Namely, users who are "rich" in attention, because they are often mentioned and retweeted, are more likely to gain new followers, while those who are "poor" in attention are likely to lose followers. We develop a phenomenological model that quantifies attention diffusion and network dynamics, and solve it to study how attention inequality grows over time in a dynamic environment of social media.
arXiv:1601.07200v1 fatcat:hgqde36airgczp3ss5zsepk55q