Credibility and the Dynamics of Collective Attention

Tanushree Mitra, Graham Wright, Eric Gilbert
2017 Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction  
Today, social media provide the means by which billions of people experience news and events happening around the world. However, the absence of traditional journalistic gatekeeping allows information to flow unencumbered through these platforms, often raising questions of veracity and credibility of the reported information. Here we ask: How do the dynamics of collective attention directed toward an event reported on social media vary with its perceived credibility? By examining the first
more » ... -scale, systematically tracked credibility database of public Twitter messages (47M messages corresponding to 1,138 real-world events over a period of three months), we established a relationship between the temporal dynamics of events reported on social media and their associated level of credibility judgments. Representing collective attention by the aggregate temporal signatures of an event's reportage, we found that the amount of continued attention focused on an event provides information about its associated levels of perceived credibility. Events exhibiting sustained, intermittent bursts of attention were found to be associated with lower levels of perceived credibility. In other words, as more people showed interest during moments of transient collective attention, the associated uncertainty surrounding these events also increased.
doi:10.1145/3134715 fatcat:aqtl2dnnivbtfn55lw4gtyjkt4