We all know that information (and rumours) spread quickly in social networks – but they can also be quickly denied and corrected too. The Guardian newspaper in the UK explored how misinformation about the London riots spread via Twitter. Comedian Graham Linehan deliberately started a Twitter rumour which, as he noted on his blog, soon spread and mutated.
Computer science researchers at Germany’s Saarland University say that they can now provide twelve pages of mathematical proof for this phenomenon.
Tobias Friedrich, Benjamin Doerr and Mahmoud Fouz say that their research suggests that information spreads much more quickly in social networks than in networks where everyone communicates with each other, or in randomly structured networks. They say that the speed of spread is due to the combination of people with many contacts and people with a few contacts. Those with few contacts (or new members) are likely to connect with highly connected individuals and this helps facilitate the speed of information flow.
I look forward to someone managing to explain the maths in 140 characters or less so I can spread it to my network!
(Thanks to Marydee Ojala for spotting the original story.)