The filter bubble is an intermediate structure to provoke polarization and echo chambers in social networks, and it has become one of today's most urgent issues for social media. Previous studies usually equated filter bubbles with community structures and emphasized this exogenous isolation effect, but there is a lack of full discussion of the internal organization of filter bubbles. Here, we design an experiment for analysing filter bubbles taking advantage of social bots. We deployed 128 bots to Weibo (the largest microblogging network in China), and each bot consumed a specific topic (entertainment or sci-tech) and ran for at least two months. In total, we recorded about 1.3 million messages exposed to these bots and their social networks. By analysing the text received by the bots and motifs in their social networks, we found that a filter bubble is not only a dense community of users with the same preferences but also presents an endogenetic unidirectional star-like structure. The structure could spontaneously exclude non-preferred information and cause polarization. Moreover, our work proved that the felicitous use of artificial intelligence technology could provide a useful experimental approach that combines privacy protection and controllability in studying social media.
Royal Society Open Science
- Pub Date:
- November 2019
- Computer Science - Social and Information Networks;
- Physics - Physics and Society
- The refined manuscript is under review in Royal Society Open Science