False Information and Disagreement in Social Networks

28 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2017 Last revised: 10 Jun 2018

See all articles by Evan Sadler

Evan Sadler

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics

Date Written: April 14, 2018

Abstract

Disagreement, including on matters of fact, is a pervasive phenomenon, yet this is incompatible with existing work on social learning. I propose a model of information processing with two key features: (i) the agent encounters false information, and (ii) the agent cannot distinguish true propositions from false ones. I study two families of axioms for update rules, finding that ``willingness-to-learn'' axioms are incompatible with ``non-manipulability'' axioms. I also provide an axiomatic characterization of several update rules. In a simple social learning model, disagreement is not just possible, but generic. I characterize the influence of each agent on steady-state beliefs and apply the framework to study echo chambers and belief manipulation.

Suggested Citation

Sadler, Evan, False Information and Disagreement in Social Networks (April 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3074552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3074552

Evan Sadler (Contact Author)

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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