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Propagation of Rumour Through a Social Network

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We focus on the study of rumour, a social phenomenon that is characterized by the spread of information throughout a social network. The pattern of the spread is just as important to characterizing a rumour as the information itself. In offline settings, rumours are typically spread in peer-to-peer fashion or through small groups because most individuals do not have the ability to expose it to many of their friends at the same time. Online social networks, conversely, allow individuals to make the rumour visible and spread it quickly to all of their friends, potentially inducing a “broadcast” pattern of rumour diffusion. We collected data of 300 rumours that were spread through the Twitter social network over the course of a month and describe the characteristic patterns of diffusion for these rumours. The analysis of data led to a formal representation of a rumour spread and the ability to compare the dynamics of rumour diffusion across different topics and actor sets.

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