Exposing Twitter Users to Contrarian News

Kiran Garimella, Gianmarco De Francisci Morales, Aristides Gionis, Michael Mathioudakis

Polarized topics often spark discussion and debate on social media. Recent studies have shown that polarized debates have a specific clustered structure in the endorsement net- work, which indicates that users direct their endorsements mostly to ideas they already agree with. Understanding these polarized discussions and exposing social media users to content that broadens their views is of paramount importance. The contribution of this demonstration is two-fold. (i) A tool to visualize retweet networks about controversial issues on Twitter. By using our visualization, users can understand how polarized discussions are shaped on Twitter, and explore the positions of the various actors. (ii) A solution to reduce polarization of such discussions. We do so by exposing users to information which presents a contrarian point of view. Users can visually inspect our recommendations and understand why and how these would play out in terms of the retweet network. Our demo (https://users.ics.aalto.fi/kiran/reducingControversy/ homepage) provides one of the first steps in developing automated tools that help users explore, and possibly escape, their echo chambers. The ideas in the demo can also help content providers design tools to broaden their reach to people with different political and ideological backgrounds.

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