Physics: Explaining Bursts of Attention on Social Media

Physics: Explaining Bursts of Attention on Social Media. “Social media are like a giant megaphone for public opinion: they can sway elections, crush a business, or incite mass action on hot-button issues like vaccination and climate change. Researchers studying how a topic grabs ‘collective attention’ have noticed a common feature in social media data: occasional short and seemingly random bursts of high-volume activity. These poorly understood ‘spikes’ are an intrinsic aspect of attention dynamics, says Manlio De Domenico, a network theorist at the Bruno Kessler Foundation (FBK) in Trento, Italy.”