Breaking Echo Chambers: How (and Which) News Diffuses across Polarized Groups on Facebook

University of Navarra

Abstract

Studies have documented counterproductive results of challenging people’s misbeliefs, as social media participants tend to distribute into polarized groups that limit their exposure to diverse opinions and react negatively to opposite views. Thus, questions are still open on which type of content might be able to shorten the distance between such polarized groups. Identifying the news’ characteristics able to encourage sharing across distant groups is important to elaborate more effective debunking strategies. In our project, we aim to detect what types of news content (e.g., true vs. false news, emotional connotations, topic, etc.) that are more likely to cross boundaries between echo chambers on Facebook through network brokers—users that occupy structural holes between those groups and connect people with divergent ideas. Our findings hope to shed light on news diffusion within and across groups and to support practitioners in the design of posts that can break echo chambers’ barriers.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Massimo Maoret

Professor, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Massimo Maoret is an associate professor in the Strategic Management Department at IESE Business School and a European Commission Marie Curie Fellow. He received a PhD in management from Boston College in 2013.

    Maoret’s research focuses on how social networks influence individual and organizational performance. He has studied how informal relationships facilitate the innovativeness of knowledge workers, and the process through which new organizational members become socialized by developing their networks in their new jobs. He has also analyzed how organizations in the public and private sectors exchange knowledge in large technological consortia, and how the stability of task-related interactions boosts organizational competitiveness. In a recent TEDx talk, Maoret reflected on how technological changes, and the respective changes in social networks, may explain the diffusion of fake news and how individuals make sense of their surrounding reality.

    His work has appeared in multiple academic outlets, including Organization Science, the Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Advances in Strategic Management and the Proceedings of the Academy of Management. He currently serves on the editorial review boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies and Organization Studies.

Participants

Jordi Torrents

Lecturer, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Jordi Torrents has a PhD in sociology from the University of Barcelona. His thesis, “The Structural Dimension of Cooperation: Cooperation Networks as Cohesive Small Worlds,” focused on the empirical analysis of cooperation among developers on the CPython and Debian open-source projects. He has worked in several international research projects at institutions such as Columbia University, University of Lugano, and IESE Business School. His role was mainly data processing and quantitative analysis focusing on network analysis, natural language processing, and regression modeling. Torrents is also an independent software developer and consultant. He has worked on the back-end development of a large electronic invoice online platform and related projects, such as the development and implementation of a multiclass classification neural network for parsing PDF invoices, and the implementation of a high-availability cryptographic signature package for PDF and XML documents. Regarding programming skills, Torrents is proficient in Python, R, and Ruby, and also has experience in JAVA and C. He has worked extensively with the Python scientific software stack (numpy, scipy, matplotlib, sklearn, networkx).

Maria Giulia Trupia

PhD Student, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Maria Giulia Trupia is a PhD candidate in the Marketing Department at IESE Business School, specializing in consumer behavior research. Using both experimental and observational data, she studies how people make decisions and the role played by their emotions in such a process. She is also interested in how consumers form judgments and inferences based external cues and information. Before joining IESE, Trupia worked as a research assistant in the Marketing Department at Bocconi University, where she conducted research in different fields of consumer behaviour (e.g., cognitive psychology) by using sophisticated techniques such as eye racking. Prior to her academic career, Trupia also gained professional experience by working at several marketing companies, both in Italy and the UK.

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