The Diffusion of False Ideas Through Social Media

36 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2018

See all articles by Chaitanya Kaligotla

Chaitanya Kaligotla

Argonne National Laboratory; Consortium of Advanced Science and Engineering, The University of Chicago

D. Charles Galunic

INSEAD

Date Written: December 9, 2018

Abstract

This research studies the diffusion of false ideas through social media, while under competition from other ideas. Using mined social media data surrounding the hunt for the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon Bombings, the paper seeks to understand why and how false ideas spread. Results indicate that while social media provides for an engaging and rapid dissemination of information and novel theories, its dynamics may risk the veracity of information and promote the widespread adoption of false ideas. Empirical analysis suggests that a traditional contagion driver—the quality of the messenger—does not matter while the dynamics of a discussion stream (polarization and momentum) plays an important role.

Keywords: Social Media, Diffusion, Contagion, Rumors

JEL Classification: D89, D26, D79

Suggested Citation

Kaligotla, Chaitanya and Galunic, D. Charles, The Diffusion of False Ideas Through Social Media (December 9, 2018). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2015/53/OBH, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3298339 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3298339

Chaitanya Kaligotla (Contact Author)

Argonne National Laboratory ( email )

9700 S. Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439
United States

Consortium of Advanced Science and Engineering, The University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

D. Charles Galunic

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
Fontainebleau 77305
France

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