Analysis of Polarized Communities in Online Social Networks

Mauro Coletto
Increasingly, people around the globe use Social Media (SM) - e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Youtube - to publish multimedia content (posting), to share it (retweeting, reblogging or resharing), to reinforce it or not (liking, disliking, favoriting) and to discuss (through messages and comments) in order to be in contact with other users and to get informed about topics of interest. The world population is ? 7:4 billion people, among them ? 2:3 billion (31%) are active social media
more » ... s (GlobalWeb Index data, Jan 2016). In fact, these virtual contexts answer the human need of aggregation that nowadays is translated into digital bonds among peers all over the world, in addition to the traditional face-to-face relationships. Online Social Networks (OSNs), then, provide a space for user aggregation in groups, expressing opinions, accessing information, contributing to public debates, and participating in the formation of belief systems. In this context, communities are built around different topics of interaction and polarized sub-groups often emerge by clustering different opinions and points of view. Such polarized sub-groups can be tracked and monitored over time in an automatic way and the analysis of their interactions is interesting to shed light on the human social behavior. Even though many studies have been devoted to understand different aspects of the social network structure and its function, such as, community structure (For10), information spreading (BRMA12), information seeking (KLPM10), link prediction (LNK07), etc., much less work is available on analyzing online discussions, user opinion and public debates. In this doctoral dissertation we analyze the concept of polarization by looking at interactions among users in different Online Social Networks. Polarization is a social process whereby a social group is divided into sub-communities discussing different topics and having different opinions, goals and viewpoints, often conflicting and contrasting (Sun02; [...]
doi:10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/204 fatcat:os36fbvee5gkrml3m6ueznbyri