U of I team studying spread of information on social media

February 11, 2018 GMT

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — University of Illinois researchers are using a $4 million grant to study how information moves across social media, affecting people’s beliefs and shaping events.

Computer Science Professor Tarek Abdelzaher (TAR’-ek AHB’-del-zah-hair) is leading a team that received a five-year grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The team has been modeling information spread on Instagram and Twitter and will study other platforms.

The spread of information via social media has influenced everything from the “ice bucket challenge” to the 2016 presidential election.

Abdelzaher says the team wants to study how people react to events and whether social media is creating “echo chambers where we only hear what people who will think like us say.” He says there are interesting questions about “a reality that didn’t exist 10 years ago.”