The web centipede: understanding how web communities influence each other through the lens of mainstream and alternative news sources
De Cristofaro, Emiliano
MetadataShow full item record
Citation (published version)Savvas Zannettou, Tristan Caulfield, Emiliano De Cristofaro, Nicolas Kourtellis, Ilias Leontiadis, Michael Sirivianos, Gianluca Stringhini, Jeremy Blackburn. 2017. "The Web Centipede: Understanding How Web Communities Influence Each Other Through the Lens of Mainstream and Alternative News Sources." PROCEEDINGS OF THE 2017 INTERNET MEASUREMENT CONFERENCE (IMC'17), pp. 405 - 418 (14). https://doi.org/10.1145/3131365.3131390
As the number and the diversity of news outlets on the Web grows, so does the opportunity for "alternative" sources of information to emerge. Using large social networks like Twitter and Facebook, misleading, false, or agenda-driven information can quickly and seamlessly spread online, deceiving people or influencing their opinions. Also, the increased engagement of tightly knit communities, such as Reddit and 4chan, further compounds the problem, as their users initiate and propagate alternative information, not only within their own communities, but also to different ones as well as various social media. In fact, these platforms have become an important piece of the modern information ecosystem, which, thus far, has not been studied as a whole. In this paper, we begin to fill this gap by studying mainstream and alternative news shared on Twitter, Reddit, and 4chan. By analyzing millions of posts around several axes, we measure how mainstream and alternative news flows between these platforms. Our results indicate that alt-right communities within 4chan and Reddit can have a surprising level of influence on Twitter, providing evidence that "fringe" communities often succeed in spreading alternative news to mainstream social networks and the greater Web.