Co-exposure Maximization in Online Social Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Authors

Sijing Tu, Cigdem Aslay, Aristides Gionis

Abstract

Social media has created new ways for citizens to stay informed on societal matters and participate in political discourse. However, with its algorithmically-curated and virally-propagating content, social media has contributed further to the polarization of opinions by reinforcing users' existing viewpoints. An emerging line of research seeks to understand how content-recommendation algorithms can be re-designed to mitigate societal polarization amplified by social-media interactions. In this paper, we study the problem of allocating seed users to opposing campaigns: by drawing on the equal-time rule of political campaigning on traditional media, our goal is to allocate seed users to campaigners with the aim to maximize the expected number of users who are co-exposed to both campaigns.

We show that the problem of maximizing co-exposure is NP-hard and its objective function is neither submodular nor supermodular. However, by exploiting a connection to a submodular function that acts as a lower bound to the objective, we are able to devise a greedy algorithm with provable approximation guarantee. We further provide a scalable instantiation of our approximation algorithm by introducing a novel extension to the notion of random reverse-reachable sets for efficiently estimating the expected co-exposure. We experimentally demonstrate the quality of our proposal on real-world social networks.