How information spreads on social networks when unexpected events occur
How information spreads on social networks
when unexpected events occur
Farida Vis | Information School | University of Sheffield
In the know + ’gatekeepers’
Social Reading the Riots, 2011
Social Users debunking
Social dynamics of virality (Face, How stuff spreads)
TRIGGER: A higher than average emotional response to the
content triggers an impulse to share.
VALIDATION: The impulse to share gets then validated against
the community the user is part of. This validation happens both
in terms of topicality (is this of interest to my audience?) and
timing (has anyone else already shared this within my circles?).
ESCALATION: The gatekeepers (e.g. media channels,
celebrities etc) share the meme helping it reach the tipping point
within a specific community. The tipping point is when every
member of the community is likely to receive the meme from
another member of the community.
‘The point is, perhaps that Twitter for a news-gatherer –
in my experience – has very often become the “canary
down the mine”. It senses the gas leak first, mostly
correctly. And then it dies.
It is a signal. A switch. A warning light that only does one
job. And then, it becomes largely useless.’
Simon Ricketts, ‘How the Boston Marathon explosions reveal the two sides of
Twitter’, Guardian, 16 April 2013.
Face’s work on ‘how stuff spreads’ - http://www.facegroup.com/category/studies/how-stuff-spreads
Social Flow’s work on spread of Bin Laden tweet - http://blog.socialflow.com/post/5246404319/breaking-bin-
Vis, F. (2014), ‘Hard Evidence: how does false information spread online?’ The Conversation, 16 April,
2014. Available from: https://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-how-does-false-information-spread-online-
Vis, F. (2013), ‘Top 10 trends of 2014: 10. The rapid spread of misinformation online’, Outlook on the Global
Agenda 2014, World Economic Forum. Available from: http://reports.weforum.org/outlook-14/view/top-ten-
Burgess, J., Vis, F., & Bruns, A. (2012), ‘How many fake Sandy pictures were really shared on social
media?’ The Guardian Data Blog, 6 November. Available from: