Model could help replace nonsense online with real facts

A new model shows how competing pieces of information spread in online social networks and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The findings could offer a way to disseminate accurate information more quickly, displacing false information about anything, such as computer security to public health.

“Whether in the IoT or on social networks, there are many circumstances where old information is circulating and could cause problems—whether it’s old security data or a misleading rumor,” says coauthor Wenye Wang, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University. “Our work here includes a new model and related analysis of how new data can displace old data in these networks.”

“Ultimately, our work can be used to determine the best places to inject new data into a network so that the old data can be eliminated faster,” says first author Jie Wang, a postdoctoral researcher.

In their paper, the researchers show that a network’s size plays a significant role in how quickly “good” information can displace “bad” information. However, a large network is not necessarily better or worse than a small one. Instead, the network’s structure affects the speed at which good data travels.

A highly interconnected network can disseminate new data very quickly. And the larger the network, the faster the new data will travel.

However, in networks connected primarily with a limited number of key nodes, those nodes serve as bottlenecks. As a result, the larger this type of network is, the slower the new data will travel.

The researchers also identified an algorithm that can assess which point in a network would allow you to spread new data throughout the network most quickly.

“Practically speaking, this could be used to ensure that an IoT network purges old data as quickly as possible and is operating with new, accurate data,” Wenye Wang says.

“But these findings are also applicable to online social networks, and could be used to facilitate the spread of accurate information regarding subjects that affect the public,” says Jie Wang. “For example, we think it could be used to combat misinformation online.”

The paper appears in the journal IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking.

Cliff Wang of the Army Research Office cowrote the paper. The National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office funded the work.

Source: NC State