Echo chambers and information transmission biases in homophilic and heterophilic networks

Diaz-Diaz, Fernando; San Miguel, Maxi; Meloni, Sandro;
Scientific Reports 12, 9350 (2022)

We study how information transmission biases arise by the interplay between the structural properties of the network and the dynamics of the information in synthetic scale-free homophilic/heterophilic networks. We provide simple mathematical tools to quantify these biases. Both Simple and Complex Contagion models are insufficient to predict significant biases. In contrast, a Hybrid Contagion model -in which both Simple and Complex Contagion occur- gives rise to three different homophily-dependent biases: emissivity and receptivity biases, and echo chambers. Simulations in an empirical network with high homophily confirm the existence of these biases. Our results shed light into the mechanisms that cause inequalities in the visibility of information sources, reduced access to information, and lack of communication among distinct groups.

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