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Research Talk by Robert Meyer, University of Pennsylvania (US)

Robert Meyer from the Uni­versity of Pennsylvania presen­ted his work in pro­gress on how news gets dis­tor­ted on so­cial me­dia. The ques­tion of what hap­pens to the fi­del­ity of news when it is re­told has lately drawn in­creased at­ten­tion be­cause of the rise of so­cial me­dia, where news – be it about polit­ics or products – often takes the form of second- or third-hand re­tell­ings of the ori­ginal article. Robert’s re­search shows that when news events are suc­cess­ively re-sum­mar­ized they are not prone to ex­ag­ger­a­tion or fab­ric­a­tion of facts, but in­stead there is a unique pat­tern of dis­tor­tion that he refers to as dis­agree­able per­son­al­iz­a­tion: highly sub­ject­ive, per­son­al­ized in­ter­pret­a­tions of news that are laced with neg­at­ively slanted ex­pres­sions of opin­ion. As the sum­mar­ies be­come in­creas­ingly het­ero­gen­eous and opin­ion­ated, they are also per­ceived by out­side judges as in­creas­ingly less ap­peal­ing to read. Hence, rather than widen­ing in­terest in the ori­ginal topic, the pro­cess of re­tell­ing ul­timately lim­its it. We thank Robert for his visit, and the in­spir­ing talk and dis­cus­sions.

For in­form­a­tion on the up­com­ing guest speak­ers, please check the agenda.

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