The Complexity of Opinion Dynamics
Digital communication platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LiquidFeedback) are complex systems, as they allow vast numbers of users to create, share, evaluate, and adjust content in short time. One the one hand, research by social-psychologists, computational social-scientists, and communication researchers is providing growing insight into how users select online services, choose content to consume, create content, and form political views online. On the other hand, there is a gap in the literature concerning the collective consequences arising from the interplay of these individual decisions. When will individuals’ tendency to connect to likeminded users make social-networks segregate into homogenous bubbles? When will individuals’ tendency to consume popular content turn some content viral? When is the individual tendency to resort to online echo chambers strong enough to generate collective opinion polarization? When will these dynamics support democratic debate?
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