November 1, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Physics Colloquium | Statistical Physics in Social Networks: Polarization, Echo Chambers and Ideologies, Nov. 20

The Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series presents Igor Sokolov of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin on “Statistical Physics in Social Networks: Polarization, Echo Chambers and Ideologies,” on Friday, Nov. 20, at 4:10 p.m. at an Online Departmental Colloquium.

Abstract: Echo chambers and opinion polarization identified in several sociopolitical contexts and across different social media raise concerns on their potential impact on the spread of misinformation and on the openness of debates. Despite increasing efforts, the dynamics leading to the emergence of these phenomena remain unclear.

In the present talk I discuss the model we consider to give the minimal description of these phenomena. The model is based on the co-evolution of individuals’ opinions and their contact network and foots on the following assumptions. The main assumption is that the agents are characterized by heterogeneous activities and homophily, i.e. are more prone to contact peers with similar opinions. The other one is a sufficient time scale separation between the opinion’s changes (slow) and the contact network’s reaction (fast). Compared with empirical data of polarized debates on Twitter, the model qualitatively reproduces the observed relation between users’ engagement and opinions, as well as opinion segregation in the interaction network. If several topics are discussed simultaneously, the model features phase transitions between consensus, opinion polarization, and ideological states characterized by strong correlations of opinions even on seemingly unrelated topics.


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