Limiting the spread of misinformation in social networks

In an ongoing project, we are studying the notion of competing campaigns in a social network and address the problem of influence limitation where a “bad” campaign starts propagating from a certain node in the network and use the notion of limiting campaigns to counteract the effect of misinformation. The problem can be summarized as identifying a subset of individuals that need to be convinced to adopt the competing (or “good”) campaign so as to minimize the number of people that adopt the “bad” campaign at the end of both propagation processes. We show that this optimization problem is NP-hard and provide approximation guarantees for a greedy solution for various definitions of this problem by proving that they are submodular. We experimentally compare the performance of the greedy method to various heuristics. The experiments reveal that in most cases inexpensive heuristics such as degree centrality compare well with the greedy approach. We also study the influence limitation problem in the presence of missing data where the cur- rent states of nodes in the network are only known with a certain probability. We propose a prediction algorithm that is based on generating random spanning trees and evaluate the performance of this approach. The experiments reveal that using the prediction algorithm, we are able to tolerate about 90% missing data before the performance of the algorithm starts degrading and even with large amounts of missing data the performance degrades only to 75% of the performance that would be achieved with complete data.

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