Detecting rumors through modeling information propagation networks in a social media environment

Yang Liu, Songhua Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In the midst of today's pervasive influence of social media content and activities, information credibility has increasingly become a major issue. Accordingly, identifying false information, e.g., rumors circulated in social media environments, attracts expanding research attention and growing interests. Many previous studies have exploited user-independent features for rumor detection. These prior investigations uniformly treat all users relevant to the propagation of a social media message as instances of a generic entity. Such a modeling approach usually adopts a homogeneous network to represent all users, the practice of which ignores the variety across an entire user population in a social media environment. Recognizing this limitation in modeling methodologies, this paper explores user-specific features in a social media environment for rumor detection. The new approach hypothesizes whether a user tending to spread a rumor message is dependent on specific attributes of the user in addition to content characteristics of the message itself. Under this hypothesis, the information propagation patterns of rumors versus those of credible messages in a social media environment are differentiable. To explore and exploit this hypothesis, we develop a new information propagation model based on a heterogeneous user representation and modeling approach. By applying the new approach, we are able to differentiate rumors from credible messages through observing distinctions in their respective propagation patterns in social media. The experimental results show that the new information propagation model based on heterogeneous user representation can effectively distinguish rumors from credible social media content. Our experimental findings further show that rumors are more likely to spread among certain user groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7587433
Pages (from-to)46-62
Number of pages17
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computational Social Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


  • Heterogeneous user representation and modeling
  • Information credibility in social media
  • Information propagation model
  • Rumor detection


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