Unveiling polarization in social networks: A matrix factorization approach

Md Tanvir Al Amin, Charu Aggarwal, Shuochao Yao, Tarek Abdelzaher, Lance Kaplan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper presents unsupervised algorithms to uncover polarization in social networks (namely, Twitter) and identify polarized groups. The approach is language-agnostic and thus broadly applicable to global and multilingual media. In cases of conflict, dispute, or situations involving multiple parties with contrasting interests, opinions get divided into different camps. Previous manual inspection of tweets has shown that such situations produce distinguishable signatures on Twitter, as people take sides leading to clusters that preferentially propagate information confirming their individual cluster-specific bias. We propose a model for polarized social networks, and show that approaches based on factorizing the matrix of sources and their claims can automate the discovery of polarized clusters with no need for prior training or natural language processing. In turn, identifying such clusters offers insights into prevalent social conflicts and helps automate the generation of less biased descriptions of ongoing events. We evaluate our factorization algorithms and their results on multiple Twitter datasets involving polarization of opinions, demonstrating the efficacy of our approach. Experiments show that our method is almost always correct in identifying the polarized information from real-world twitter traces, and outperforms the baseline mechanisms by a large margin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationINFOCOM 2017 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781509053360
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017
Event2017 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2017 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: May 1 2017May 4 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE INFOCOM
ISSN (Print)0743-166X


Other2017 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, INFOCOM 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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