Visiting Speaker
Walter Quattrociocchi
Superviser of the Laboratory of Data Science and Complexity at the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari
From Confirmation Bias to Echo Chambers on Facebook
Jul 20, 2018
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3:00 pm
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor
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Social media are pervaded by unsubstantiated or untruthful rumors, that contribute to the alarming phenomenon of misinformation. The widespread pres- ence of a heterogeneous mass of information sources may affect the mechanisms behind the formation of public opinion. Such a scenario is a florid environment for digital wildfires when combined with functional illiteracy, information overload, and confirmation bias. In this essay, we focus on a collection of works aiming at providing quantitative evidence about the cognitive determinants behind misinfor- mation and rumor spreading. We account for users’ behavior with respect to two distinct narratives: a) conspiracy and b) scientific information sources. In particular, we analyze Facebook data on a time span of five years in both the Italian and the US context, and measure users’ response to i) information consistent with one’s narra- tive, ii) troll contents, and iii) dissenting information e.g., debunking attempts. Our findings suggest that users tend to a) join polarized communities sharing a common narrative (echo chambers), b) acquire information confirming their beliefs (confirmation bias) even if containing false claims, and c) ignore dissenting information.

about the speaker
Walter Quattrociocchi is currently heading the Laboratory of Data Science and Complexity at the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari. His research interests include data science, dynamic networks, cognitive science, graph algorithms, and dynamic processes on complex networks. His research, based on an interdisciplinary approach, focuses on the information and misinformation diffusion, and the emergence of collective narratives in online social media as well as their relation with the evolution of opinions. He collected more than 50 scientific papers on major peer reviewed conferences and journals. His results on misinformation spreading served to inform the Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum (2016 and 2017) and have been intensively covered by the media (The Economist, The Guardian, Washington Posts, New Scientist, Bloomberg, Salon, Poynter, New York Times). A summary of his main findings is available at: How does misinformation spread online? World Economic Forum Agenda

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