Polarization on Reddit? Understanding dynamics of user interactions in social media networks

Wienke Strathern, Raji Ghawi, Hemank Lamba, Juergen Pfeffer

Contact: wienke.strathern@tum.de

Social media networks are platforms for social and communicative interaction. Users that participate in political discussions form their opinions based on interaction with other users. This leads to the question whether it is possible to disrupt user interaction via interventions and thus influence the formation of a user's opinion. How powerful are external interventions like social feedback, a sudden and unexpected action, topic change or the use of emotional language? Which intervention triggers change in people’s opinion? In the analysis we will relate political topics to linguistic style and communication behavior within Reddit communities. We analyze extracted political topics from Reddit and detect the “shifting of opinions”, such as polarization, radicalization or deradicalization. We investigate the consequence of interventions using communication network analysis related to social science theories. We will demonstrate communication structures and dynamics of social media platforms and how to influence them.

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