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Exploring How Homophily and Accessibility Can Facilitate Polarization in Social Networks

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Statistics, University of Central Florida (UCF), TC2 4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816-2370, USA
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Industrial Engineering and Management Systems, University of Central Florida (UCF), Engr II 4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816-2370, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Information 2018, 9(12), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/info9120325
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 1 December 2018 / Accepted: 11 December 2018 / Published: 14 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Information Diffusion in Social Networks)
Polarization in online social networks has gathered a significant amount of attention in the research community and in the public sphere due to stark disagreements with millions of participants on topics surrounding politics, climate, the economy and other areas where an agreement is required. This work investigates into greater depth a type of model that can produce ideological segregation as a result of polarization depending on the strength of homophily and the ability of users to access similar minded individuals. Whether increased access can induce larger amounts of societal separation is important to investigate, and this work sheds further insight into the phenomenon. Center to the hypothesis of homophilic alignments in friendship generation is that of a discussion group or community. These are modeled and the investigation into their effect on the dynamics of polarization is presented. The social implications demonstrate that initial phases of an ideological exchange can result in increased polarization, although a consensus in the long run is expected and that the separation between groups is amplified when groups are constructed with ideological homophilic preferences. View Full-Text
Keywords: political polarization; echo-chambers; social networks; binary voter model; discussion dynamics; opinion dynamics model political polarization; echo-chambers; social networks; binary voter model; discussion dynamics; opinion dynamics model
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Taylor, C.E.; Mantzaris, A.V.; Garibay, I. Exploring How Homophily and Accessibility Can Facilitate Polarization in Social Networks. Information 2018, 9, 325.

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