earned a bad reputation for their alleged role in the 2016 US presidential election but researchers have found that automated tweets can also help promote good behaviour such as getting the flu shot among the social
In a large-scale experiment designed to analyse the spread of information
networks, the researchers deployed a network
of algorithm-driven Twitter accounts, or social
bots, programmed to spread positive messages on Twitter.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, also revealed another intriguing pattern — information
is much more likely to become viral when people are exposed to the same piece of information
multiple times through multiple sources.
"This milestone shatters a long-held belief that ideas spread like an infectious disease, or contagion, with each exposure resulting in the same probability of infection," Ferrara said.
"Now we have seen empirically that when you are exposed to a given piece of information
multiple times, your chances of adopting this information
increase every time," Ferrara added.
To reach these conclusions, the researchers first developed a dozen positive hashtags, ranging from health tips to fun activities, such as encouraging users to get the flu shot and high-five a stranger.
Then, they designed a network
of 39 bots to deploy these hashtags in a synchronised manner to 25,000 real followers during a four-month period.
Each bot automatically recorded when a target user retweeted intervention-related content and also each exposure that had taken place prior to retweeting. Several hashtags received more than one hundred retweets and likes, Ferrara said.
"We also saw that every exposure increased the probability of adoption — there is a cumulative reinforcement effect," Ferrara said.
"It seems there are some cognitive mechanisms that reinforce your likelihood to believe in or adopt a piece of information
when it is validated by multiple sources in your social
network," he said.
The researchers believe that this discovery could also improve how positive intervention strategies are deployed on social
networks in many scenarios, including public health announcements for disease control or emergency management in the wake of a crisis.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)