The focus of this research project is understanding how information propagates through complex socio-technical information networks. One goal of this project is to study how social network structure, finite attention, popular sentiment, user influence, and other factors affect the manner in which information is disseminated. A second goal is to better understand how social media can be abused, for example by malicious social bots, astroturf, orchestrated campaigns, and online hoaxes.
The project collects a sample of public tweets from Twitter via their Streaming API. The messages are sampled by Twitter, and the sampling is said to be random, i.e. representative.