Addressing the issue of imbalance in information exposure on social media a team of scientists have developed a new algorithm that they claim is able to deliver balanced information from both sides of the aisle.
Researchers from Aalto University and University of Rome Tor Vergata say through their new algorithm, social media users can be exposed to balanced information to alleviate the issue of echo chambers on social media. The algorithm uses a greedy algorithm paradigm that aims to find optimal choices at each stage.
In this study the algorithm works by efficiently selecting a set of influential users, who can be convinced to spread information about their side to the other side. The goal is to maximize the amount of users exposed to both viewpoints.
The algorithm helps to identify a small number of influential users who are exposed to both campaigns and have a more balanced viewpoint.
According to researchers, they use word clouds as a qualitative case study to complement our quantitative results, whereby words in the cloud represent the words found in the users’ profiles. By this they mean that if we look at the topics related to the hashtag #russiagate, we can see not only that the two word clouds that represent the conflicting viewpoints are rather different, but also that they indicate either support or hate for Trump.
Similarly, a topic like fracking has two circles of users talking among themselves, strengthening their conflicting campaigns. Researchers point out in the data they collected that network is fragmented into two sides, one set of users supporting fracking and using terms such as ‘oil’, ‘energy’, and ‘gas’, and another set of users opposing fracking and using terms such as ‘environmental’, ‘green’, and ‘energy’. There is small overlap in the keywords used by each side, indicating that users are in an echo chamber.