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Connecting users with similar interests for group understanding

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In most social networking websites, users are allowed to perform interactive activities. One of the fundamental features that these sites provide is to connecting with users of their kind. On

In most social networking websites, users are allowed to perform interactive activities. One of the fundamental features that these sites provide is to connecting with users of their kind. On one hand, this activity makes online connections visible and tangible; on the other hand, it enables the exploration of our connections and the expansion of our social networks easier. The aggregation of people who share common interests forms social groups, which are fundamental parts of our social lives. Social behavioral analysis at a group level is an active research area and attracts many interests from the industry. Challenges of my work mainly arise from the scale and complexity of user generated behavioral data. The multiple types of interactions, highly dynamic nature of social networking and the volatile user behavior suggest that these data are complex and big in general. Effective and efficient approaches are required to analyze and interpret such data. My work provide effective channels to help connect the like-minded and, furthermore, understand user behavior at a group level. The contributions of this dissertation are in threefold: (1) proposing novel representation of collective tagging knowledge via tag networks; (2) proposing the new information spreader identification problem in egocentric soical networks; (3) defining group profiling as a systematic approach to understanding social groups. In sum, the research proposes novel concepts and approaches for connecting the like-minded, enables the understanding of user groups, and exposes interesting research opportunities.

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Date Created
  • 2013

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Analysis and decision-making with social media

Description

The rapid advancements of technology have greatly extended the ubiquitous nature of smartphones acting as a gateway to numerous social media applications. This brings an immense convenience to the users

The rapid advancements of technology have greatly extended the ubiquitous nature of smartphones acting as a gateway to numerous social media applications. This brings an immense convenience to the users of these applications wishing to stay connected to other individuals through sharing their statuses, posting their opinions, experiences, suggestions, etc on online social networks (OSNs). Exploring and analyzing this data has a great potential to enable deep and fine-grained insights into the behavior, emotions, and language of individuals in a society. This proposed dissertation focuses on utilizing these online social footprints to research two main threads – 1) Analysis: to study the behavior of individuals online (content analysis) and 2) Synthesis: to build models that influence the behavior of individuals offline (incomplete action models for decision-making).

A large percentage of posts shared online are in an unrestricted natural language format that is meant for human consumption. One of the demanding problems in this context is to leverage and develop approaches to automatically extract important insights from this incessant massive data pool. Efforts in this direction emphasize mining or extracting the wealth of latent information in the data from multiple OSNs independently. The first thread of this dissertation focuses on analytics to investigate the differentiated content-sharing behavior of individuals. The second thread of this dissertation attempts to build decision-making systems using social media data.

The results of the proposed dissertation emphasize the importance of considering multiple data types while interpreting the content shared on OSNs. They highlight the unique ways in which the data and the extracted patterns from text-based platforms or visual-based platforms complement and contrast in terms of their content. The proposed research demonstrated that, in many ways, the results obtained by focusing on either only text or only visual elements of content shared online could lead to biased insights. On the other hand, it also shows the power of a sequential set of patterns that have some sort of precedence relationships and collaboration between humans and automated planners.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Understanding Disinformation: Learning with Weak Social Supervision

Description

Social media has become an important means of user-centered information sharing and communications in a gamut of domains, including news consumption, entertainment, marketing, public relations, and many more. The low

Social media has become an important means of user-centered information sharing and communications in a gamut of domains, including news consumption, entertainment, marketing, public relations, and many more. The low cost, easy access, and rapid dissemination of information on social media draws a large audience but also exacerbate the wide propagation of disinformation including fake news, i.e., news with intentionally false information. Disinformation on social media is growing fast in volume and can have detrimental societal effects. Despite the importance of this problem, our understanding of disinformation in social media is still limited. Recent advancements of computational approaches on detecting disinformation and fake news have shown some early promising results. Novel challenges are still abundant due to its complexity, diversity, dynamics, multi-modality, and costs of fact-checking or annotation.

Social media data opens the door to interdisciplinary research and allows one to collectively study large-scale human behaviors otherwise impossible. For example, user engagements over information such as news articles, including posting about, commenting on, or recommending the news on social media, contain abundant rich information. Since social media data is big, incomplete, noisy, unstructured, with abundant social relations, solely relying on user engagements can be sensitive to noisy user feedback. To alleviate the problem of limited labeled data, it is important to combine contents and this new (but weak) type of information as supervision signals, i.e., weak social supervision, to advance fake news detection.

The goal of this dissertation is to understand disinformation by proposing and exploiting weak social supervision for learning with little labeled data and effectively detect disinformation via innovative research and novel computational methods. In particular, I investigate learning with weak social supervision for understanding disinformation with the following computational tasks: bringing the heterogeneous social context as auxiliary information for effective fake news detection; discovering explanations of fake news from social media for explainable fake news detection; modeling multi-source of weak social supervision for early fake news detection; and transferring knowledge across domains with adversarial machine learning for cross-domain fake news detection. The findings of the dissertation significantly expand the boundaries of disinformation research and establish a novel paradigm of learning with weak social supervision that has important implications in broad applications in social media.

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Date Created
  • 2020