This 2014 article focuses on Social Network Analysis (SNA) and in particular content propagation and dissemination on Facebook. The authors track the propagation of thousands of rumours appearing on Facebook by referencing known rumours from Snopes.com, a popular website documenting memes and urban legends. From a sample of 249,035 comments, the authors were able to identify over 16,000 individual “rumor cascades” and infer the rates at which rumours from different categories and of varying truth values are uploaded and re-shared. Using a dataset of rumours copied and pasted from one status update to another, the authors are able to show that rumours change over time and that different variants tend to dominate different bursts in popularity.
This article will be useful to researchers and practitioners looking at social media content analysis and the propagation and dissemination of various types of content through online platforms, viral content, trending content, and popularity bursts and cascades. Online social networks provide a rich environment for rumour propagation, as information received via friends tends to be trusted and online social networks allow individuals to transmit information concurrently to large numbers of friends in their networks. The authors find that rumour cascades run deeper within social networks than re-share cascades in general. The authors examine the effect of individual re-shares that receive comments containing links to a Snopes article on the evolution of the cascade, and find that receiving such a comment increases the likelihood that a re-share of a rumour will be deleted. The findings indicate that large cascades are able to accumulate hundreds of Snopes comments while continuing to propagate.