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Digital wildfires: propagation, verification, regulation, and responsible innovation

Webb, Helena, Burnap, Peter, Procter, Rob, Rana, Omer, Stahl, Bernd, Williams, Matthew, Housley, William, Edwards, Adam and Jirotka, Marina 2016. Digital wildfires: propagation, verification, regulation, and responsible innovation. ACM Transactions on Information Systems 34 (3) , 15. 10.1145/2893478

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Abstract

Social media platforms provide an increasingly popular means for individuals to share content online. Whilst this produces undoubted societal benefits, the ability for content to be spontaneously posted and reposted creates an ideal environment for rumour and false/malicious information to spread rapidly. When this occurs it can cause significant harm and can be characterised as a “digital wildfire.” In this article, we demonstrate that the propagation and regulation of digital wildfires form important topics for research and conduct an overview of existing work in this area. We outline the relevance of a range of work from the computational and social sciences, including a series of insights into the propagation of rumour and false/malicious information. We argue that significant research gaps remain—for instance, there is an absence of systematic studies on the effects of digital wildfires and there is a need to combine empirical research with a consideration of how the responsible governance of social media can be determined. We propose an agenda for research that establishes a methodology to explore in full the propagation and regulation of unverified content on social media. This agenda promotes high-quality interdisciplinary research that will also inform policy debates.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Computer Science & Informatics
Data Innovation Research Institute (DIURI)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Publisher: Association for Computing Machinery
ISSN: 1046-8188
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2016 05:07
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/89892

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