Mechanisms and Attributes of Echo Chambers in Social Media

Bohan Jiang, Mansooreh Karami, Lu Cheng, Tyler Black, Huan Liu

Echo chambers may exclude social media users from being exposed to other opinions, therefore, can cause rampant negative effects. Among abundant evidence are the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections conspiracy theories and polarization, as well as the COVID-19 disinfodemic. To help better detect echo chambers and mitigate its negative effects, this paper explores the mechanisms and attributes of echo chambers in social media. In particular, we first illustrate four primary mechanisms related to three main factors: human psychology, social networks, and automatic systems. We then depict common attributes of echo chambers with a focus on the diffusion of misinformation, spreading of conspiracy theory, creation of social trends, political polarization, and emotional contagion of users. We illustrate each mechanism and attribute in a multi-perspective of sociology, psychology, and social computing with recent case studies. Our analysis suggest an emerging need to detect echo chambers and mitigate their negative effects.

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