Dissertation Information for Eytan Bkshy
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Information Diffusion and Social Influence in Online Networks
Abstract: The explosive growth of online social systems has changed how individuals consume and disseminate information. In this thesis, we conduct large-scale observational and experimental studies that allow us to determine the role that social networks play in information diffusion online, and the factors that mediate this influence. We first examine the adoption of user-created content in a virtual world, and find that social transmission appears to play a prominent role in the adoption of content. Ultimately, we are faced with a critical problem that underlies all contemporary empirical research on social influence: how do we measure whether individuals in a network influence one another, when the basis for their interaction rests upon commonalities that are predictive of their future behavior? We use two coupled experiments to address this question. In our first experiment, we randomize exposure to social signals about friends' information sharing behavior to determine the causal effect of networks on diffusion among 253 million subjects in situ. Our second experiment further tests how social information affects individual sharing decisions when viewing content. Finally, this thesis concludes with a study that examines how individuals allocate attention across their network of contacts, which has implications for influence and information diversity in networks.
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