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Building a Social Media Belief Observatory by Professor Joshua Introne at School of Information Studies, Syracuse University

There is continuing concern that online problems like toxicity, extremism, misinformation, and polarization are indicators of deeper societal ills, and moreover, that mediating technologies exacerbate these social problems. Research has focused on specific challenges, like detecting, suppressing, and correcting misinformation, or preventing toxicity. However, the various pernicious online phenomena that have drawn research attention are all at some level connected to beliefs, and might be usefully examined as a particular type of belief dynamics.

Event details

With this talk, Joshua introduces the idea of creating a “Belief Observatory” that can harness online data to enable a uniform approach for investigating belief dynamics at scale and with unprecedented granularity. As a technical basis for this vision, he describe the Belief Landscape Framework (BLF), which uses Twitter data to create a map of people’s professed beliefs and measures the movement of a population across this landscape. Joshua applies the BLF to conversations about climate change and validate the analysis against a set of hypotheses drawn from literature on complex systems. His results indicate that 1) there are many stable configurations of belief, or attractors, on the polarizing issue of climate change and 2) that people move in predictable ways around these attractors. This initial work demonstrates the feasibility for a Belief Observatory would enable us to investigate how the modern digital media ecosystem impacts collective belief dynamics.

Josh in an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.  His research focuses on collective intelligence in socio-technical systems. Josh directs the C4 Lab, which is an interdisciplinary research group that uses computational techniques to examine the dynamics of online communication.  Josh draws on insights from complexity theory and cognitive science to design online systems that promote social good. His current work considers how social technology can influence the formation of peoples’ beliefs, and in particular beliefs that are motivated by misinformation.

Delivery and Registration:

This seminar will be delivered on Zoom. To register, please click here. Registration closes: Wednesday, 7 December 2022 at 09:00 (GMT). If you miss the registration, please contact IDSAI.

If you have any queries, please contact IDSAI.

This forms part of the IDSAI Research Seminar Series for 2022-2023.