Signed Networks in Social Media

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Leskovec, Jure ; Huttenlocher, Daniel ; Kleinberg, Jon (2010)
  • Subject: Computer Science - Human-Computer Interaction | Physics - Physics and Society | H.5.3 | Computer Science - Computers and Society

Relations between users on social media sites often reflect a mixture of positive (friendly) and negative (antagonistic) interactions. In contrast to the bulk of research on social networks that has focused almost exclusively on positive interpretations of links between people, we study how the interplay between positive and negative relationships affects the structure of on-line social networks. We connect our analyses to theories of signed networks from social psychology. We find that the classical theory of structural balance tends to capture certain common patterns of interaction, but that it is also at odds with some of the fundamental phenomena we observe --- particularly related to the evolving, directed nature of these on-line networks. We then develop an alternate theory of status that better explains the observed edge signs and provides insights into the underlying social mechanisms. Our work provides one of the first large-scale evaluations of theories of signed networks using on-line datasets, as well as providing a perspective for reasoning about social media sites.
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