Study finds fringe communities on Reddit and 4chan have high influence on flow of alternative news to Twitter
Reddit and 4chan help fake news garner eyeballs on Twitter, which then helps it break out on the New York Times, Infowars, CNN, and similar sites.
After analyzing millions of posts containing mainstream and alternative news shared on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan, Jeremy Blackburn, Ph.D., and collaborators found that alt-right communities within 4chan, an image-based discussion forum where users are anonymous, and Reddit, a social news aggregator where users vote up or down on posts, have a surprisingly large influence on Twitter. The results of the study were published this week in a paper at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in London.
“Based on our findings, these smaller, fringe communities on Reddit and 4chan serve as an incubation chamber for a lot of information,” said Blackburn, assistant professor of computer science in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “The content and talking points are refined until they finally break free and make it to larger, more mainstream communities.”
The team gathered information from posts, threads and comments on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan that contained URLs from 45 mainstream and 54 alternative news websites. Activity on the three platforms was measured between June 20, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2017.