Slow, content-based, federated, explainable, and fair
Access to information on the world wide web is dominated by two monopolists, Google and Facebook, that decide most of the information we see. Their business models are based on “surveillance capitalism”, that is, profiting from getting to know as much as possible about individuals that use the platforms. The information about individuals is used to maximize their engagement thereby maximizing the number of targeted advertisements shown to these individuals. Google’s and Facebook’s financial success has influenced many other online businesses as well as a substantial part of the academic research agenda in machine learning and information retrieval, that increasingly focuses on training on huge datasets, literally building on the success of Google and Facebook by using their pre-trained models (e.g. BERT and ELMo). Large pre-trained models and algorithms that maximize engagement come with many societal problems: They have been shown to discriminate minority groups, to manipulate elections, to radicalize users, and even to enable genocide. Looking forward to 2021-2027, we aim to research the following technical alternatives that do not exhibit these problems: 1) slow, content-based, learning maximizing user satisfaction instead of fast, click-based learning maximizing user engagement; 2) federated information access and search instead of centralized access and search; 3) explainable, fair approaches instead of black-box, biased approaches.
A multilevel analysis of Movember’s fundraising campaigns in 24 countries
by Tijs van den Broek, Ariana Need, Michel Ehrenhard, Anna Priante, and Djoerd Hiemstra
This study examines how the interplay between an online campaign’s network structure and prosocial cultural norms in a country affect charitable giving. We conducted a multilevel analysis that includes Twitter network and aggregated donation data from the 2013 Movember fundraising campaigns in 24 countries during 62 campaign days. Prosocial cultural norms did not affect the relationship between network size and average donations raised, nor did they affect the relationship between network centralization and average donation amount. Prosocial cultural norms did affect the relationship between network density and average donations raised. However, this effect was negative and contrary to our expectation.
Published in Social Networks 58, pages 128-135
by Anna Priante
Social movement organizations widely use social media to organize collective action for social change, such as cancer awareness campaigns. However, little is known about how effective online social movement campaigns are at generating social change by translating online action into meaningful (offline) action. This dissertation examines the micro-mobilization dynamics at play that can explain the effectiveness of online social social movement campaigns. This book comprises seven chapters presenting research based on a multidisciplinary, mixed-method approach, combining theories and methods from sociology, social psychology, communication science, and computational social science. The findings show that, with mobilization dynamics of collective action, we can gain an important understanding of the mechanisms at work during online social movement campaigns and of the effectiveness of such campaigns in fostering communication processes related to the cause, obtaining important resources for the cause, developing a collective identity, and raising awareness.
Anna’s defense was the 5000th PhD defense at the UT!
Responses to HPV Vaccination Campaigns in The Netherlands: an analysis of discussions on Twitter
by Marieke Graef
Even though the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) is an effective and safe instrument to decrease HPV infections and cases of several types of cancer, the Dutch HPV vaccination rate has been suboptimal from the start and has even shown a decline in the last two years. This study sought to assess the determinants of HPV vaccination uptake in the Netherlands and how the vaccine and RIVM and GGDTwente messages were discussed on Twitter from 2011 till 2016. Method: All Dutch language tweets mentioning HPV from the years 2011 till 2016 were collected from a database, amounting to a total of 17319. A content analysis of all tweets was carried out manually. The content of the GGDTwente and RIVM tweets was examined as well as responses to these tweets. Furthermore, the tweets were analyzed for specific determinants of HPV vaccination uptake and general sentiments. Results: The GGDTwente and RIVM only became truly active on Twitter regarding the HPV vaccination program in 2015. The RIVM tweets received significantly more response, though this response mostly consisted of retweets. Nearly all GGDTwente tweets concerned vaccination schedules. By far the most common determinant of low vaccination uptake in tweets from the public was the fear of side-effects, with scare stories going viral in 2015 and 2016 especially. On the other hand, publications on the high number of HPV infections among women received a lot of attention as well. Overall, the general sentiment towards the HPV vaccine on Twitter was more positive than negative in the first years, but due to stories about side-effects turned more negative in 2015. Conclusions: The results show that the fear of side-effects is something that needs to be addressed by public health authorities. Additionally, more practical measures such as a school-based vaccination program may be a great way to help increase the vaccination rate.
Temporal Information Models for Real-Time Microblog Search
by Flávio Martins
Real-time search in Twitter and other social media services is often biased towards the most recent results due to the “in the moment” nature of topic trends and their ephemeral relevance to users and media in general. However, “in the moment”, it is often difficult to look at all emerging topics and single-out the important ones from the rest of the social media chatter. This thesis proposes to leverage on external sources to estimate the duration and burstiness of live Twitter topics. It extends preliminary research where it was shown that temporal re-ranking using external sources could indeed improve the accuracy of results. To further explore this topic we pursued three significant novel approaches:
(1) multi-source information analysis that explores behavioral dynamics of users, such as Wikipedia live edits and page view streams, to detect topic trends and estimate the topic interest over time;
(2) efficient methods for federated query expansion towards the improvement of query meaning; and
(3) exploiting multiple sources towards the detection of temporal query intent.
It differs from past approaches in the sense that it will work over real-time queries, leveraging on live user-generated content. This approach contrasts with previous methods that require an offline preprocessing step.
(Photo by @firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recommending Users: Whom to Follow on Federated Social Networks
by Jan Trienes, Andrés Torres Cano, and Djoerd Hiemstra
To foster an active and engaged community, social networks employ recommendation algorithms that filter large amounts of contents and provide a user with personalized views of the network. Popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter generate follow recommendations by listing profiles a user may be interested to connect with. Federated social networks aim to resolve issues associated with the popular social networks – such as large-scale user-surveillance and the miss-use of user data to manipulate elections – by decentralizing authority and promoting privacy. Due to their recent emergence, recommender systems do not exist for federated social networks, yet. To make these networks more attractive and promote community building, we investigate how recommendation algorithms can be applied to decentralized social networks. We present an offline and online evaluation of two recommendation strategies: a collaborative filtering recommender based on BM25 and a topology-based recommender using personalized PageRank. Our experiments on a large unbiased sample of the federated social network Mastodon shows that collaborative filtering approaches outperform a topology-based approach, whereas both approaches significantly outperform a random recommender. A subsequent live user experiment on Mastodon using balanced interleaving shows that the collaborative filtering recommender performs on par with the topology-based recommender.
This paper will be presented at the 17th Dutch-Belgian Information Retrieval workshop in Leiden on 23 November 2018
Understanding engagement behavior in online brand communities : how social identity relates to frequency of interaction and tweet sentiment.
by Candy Reebroek
This study explains engagement behavior in online brand communities based on data of Twitter users who present different types of social identities. For this, we examined fifteen online brand communities that are popular on Twitter and originated from fashion, fast-food, gaming, cars, and sports sectors. In total, 27,143 twitter messages were analyzed from 22,333 unique Twitter users. We used the Twitter user’s profile descriptions to classify their social identity with the help of computational methods such as Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. To study the engagement behavior of the Twitter users, we calculated the tweets sentiment and the frequency of interaction between Twitter users and online brand communities. We found that tweet sentiment and frequency of interaction vary significantly between different social identity groups when mentioning different online brand communities. This result is important for online brand community managers to understand what kind of Twitter users interact with their online brand community and how these users engage with the community. Right now, they might only investigate demographics about the users but do not consider the user’s self-presentation online. Furthermore, we made a theoretical contribution by including a larger dataset, by performing computational methods and by exploring multiple online brand communities from different sectors.
The role of Online Identity on Donations to Nonprofit Organizations in Online Health Campaigns
by Anna Priante, Ariana Need, Tijs van den Broek, and Djoerd Hiemstra
Nonprofit Organizations largely use social media to mobilize people for social causes and encourage participation in collective action, such as advocacy campaigns. However, little is known about the micro-level mechanisms that drive individual mobilization outcomes that require a substantial effort in participation such as collecting donations during advocacy campaigns. By answering the call to combine motivational and structural factors that explain the mechanisms driving people’s engagement in collective action via social media, we focus on the role of online social identity as a motivator to engage in campaigns, and on individual network positions as opportunity structures for online mobilization. Using the 2014 US Movember health movement campaign on Twitter as an empirical context, we adopt a multi-method approach combining Natural Language Processing, social network analysis and multivariate regression analysis to investigate the effects of online social identity and structural network position on the amount of collected donations for medical research during campaign. We find that only social identities related to occupations and professions have significant effects on the amount of collected donation, whereas network position matters when movement members are central in the communication process because they connect different cohesive subgroups, or communities of the network, characterized by the prevalence of weak ties. We show the importance of integrating the study of identity and network to advance our understanding of online micro-mobilization dynamics. This study offers contributions to research at the intersection of research on the non-profit sector, social movements, media and communication, and health fundraising.
To be presented at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management on 14 August 2018 in Chicago, USA
How Online Identity influences Collected Donations in Online Health Campaigns
by Anna Priante, Michel Ehrenhard, Tijs van der Broek, Ariana Need, Djoerd Hiemstra
Health advocacy organizations increasingly use social media to engage people in fundraising campaigns for medical research, such as cancer prevention. However, little is known about the effectiveness of online health campaigns and the psychosocial mechanisms that drive people’s voluntary engagement to collect money for medical research. By using identity-based motivation theory from social psychology, we focus on campaign participants’ online occupational identity, such as being a doctor, and how it provides motivation to collect donations. We investigate the mechanisms, such as fundraisers’ Twitter activity as a cognitive process and their central network positions in online communication, that mediate the relationship between identity and donations.
We adopt a multi-method approach combining automatic text analysis, Natural Language Processing from computational linguistics, social network analysis and multivariate regression analysis. Using the 2014 US Movember health movement campaign on Twitter as an empirical context, we find that when people are engaged in health fundraising on Twitter, their success depends on the extent to which they act in occupational identity-congruent ways. In addition, we find that fundraisers’ Twitter activity as a sense-making, cognitive process – and not their central positions in online communication – mediates the relation between identity and donations.
We show the importance of integrating both people’s social identification and cognitive processes into theory and research for a better understanding of how occupational identity matters in online health campaigns. This study offers contributions to research at the intersection of health advocacy, social media use, and, more broadly, online social movements. We conclude by discussing the practical implications of these findings for health advocacy organizations.
To be presented at the 113th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association
(ASA 2018) on 11-14 August 2018 in Philadelphia, USA.
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