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STICERD Economic Theory Seminars

Learning from Viral Content

Kevin He (Penn), joint with Krishna Dasaratha

Thursday 09 May 2024 15:30 - 17:00

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.

About this event

We study learning on social media with an equilibrium model of users interacting with shared news stories. Rational users arrive sequentially, observe an original story (i.e., a private signal) and a sample of predecessors’ stories in a news feed, and then decide which stories to share. The observed sample of stories depends on what predecessors share as well as the sampling algorithm generating news feeds. We focus on how often this algorithm selects more viral (i.e., widely shared) stories. Showing users viral stories can increase information aggregation, but it can also generate steady states where most shared stories are wrong. These misleading steady states self-perpetuate, as users who observe wrong stories develop wrong beliefs, and thus rationally continue to share them. Finally, we describe several consequences for platform design and robustness.

Economic Theory Seminars are held on Thursdays in term time at 15:30-17:00, both ONLINE and IN PERSON in SAL 3.05.

Seminar organisers: Dr Andrew Ellis and Dr Christopher Sandmann.

For further information please contact Sadia Ali:

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