Online communities play a crucial role in disseminating conspiracy theories. New theories often emerge in the aftermath of catastrophic events. Despite evidence of their widespread appeal, surprisingly little is known about who participates in these event-specific conspiratorial discussions or how do these discussions evolve over time. We study r/conspiracy, an active Reddit community of more than 200,000 users dedicated to conspiratorial discussions. By focusing on four tragic events and 10 years of discussions, we find three distinct user cohorts: joiners, who never participated in Reddit but joined r/conspiracy only after the event; converts who were active Reddit users but joined r/conspiracy only after the event; and veterans, who are longstanding r/conspiracy members. While joiners and converts have a shorter lifespan in the community in comparison to the veterans, joiners are more active during their shorter tenure, becoming increasingly engaged over time. Finally, to investigate how these events affect users' conspiratorial discussions, we adopted a causal inference approach to analyze user comments around the time of the events. We find that discussions happening after the event exhibit signs of emotional shock, increased language complexity, and simultaneous expressions of certainty and doubtfulness. Our work provides insight on how online communities may detect new conspiracy theories that emerge ensuing dramatic events, and in the process stop them before they spread.

Conspiracies online: User discussions in a conspiracy community following dramatic events / Samory, M.; Mitra, T.. - (2018), pp. 340-349. (Intervento presentato al convegno 12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2018 tenutosi a Stanford University, usa).

Conspiracies online: User discussions in a conspiracy community following dramatic events

Samory M.;
2018

Abstract

Online communities play a crucial role in disseminating conspiracy theories. New theories often emerge in the aftermath of catastrophic events. Despite evidence of their widespread appeal, surprisingly little is known about who participates in these event-specific conspiratorial discussions or how do these discussions evolve over time. We study r/conspiracy, an active Reddit community of more than 200,000 users dedicated to conspiratorial discussions. By focusing on four tragic events and 10 years of discussions, we find three distinct user cohorts: joiners, who never participated in Reddit but joined r/conspiracy only after the event; converts who were active Reddit users but joined r/conspiracy only after the event; and veterans, who are longstanding r/conspiracy members. While joiners and converts have a shorter lifespan in the community in comparison to the veterans, joiners are more active during their shorter tenure, becoming increasingly engaged over time. Finally, to investigate how these events affect users' conspiratorial discussions, we adopted a causal inference approach to analyze user comments around the time of the events. We find that discussions happening after the event exhibit signs of emotional shock, increased language complexity, and simultaneous expressions of certainty and doubtfulness. Our work provides insight on how online communities may detect new conspiracy theories that emerge ensuing dramatic events, and in the process stop them before they spread.
2018
12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2018
conspiracy; dramatic events; interrupted time series; social media; reddit; sandy hooks; boston bombing
04 Pubblicazione in atti di convegno::04b Atto di convegno in volume
Conspiracies online: User discussions in a conspiracy community following dramatic events / Samory, M.; Mitra, T.. - (2018), pp. 340-349. (Intervento presentato al convegno 12th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, ICWSM 2018 tenutosi a Stanford University, usa).
File allegati a questo prodotto
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11573/1655752
 Attenzione

Attenzione! I dati visualizzati non sono stati sottoposti a validazione da parte dell'ateneo

Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 38
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact