Evolution of the Plandemic Communication Network Among Serial Participants on Twitter

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Communication networks, COVID-19, misinformation, network analysis, online discussion, Plandemic, RSiena

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The coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by the spread of misinformation on social media. The Plandemic conspiracy theory holds that the pandemic outbreak was planned to create a new social order. This study examines the evolution of this popular conspiracy theory from a dynamic network perspective. Guided by the analytical framework of network evolution, the current study explores drivers of tie changes in the Plandemic communication network among serial participants over a 4-month period. Results show that tie changes are explained by degree-based and closure-based structural features (i.e. tendencies toward transitive closure and shared popularity and tendencies against in-degree activity and transitive reciprocated triplet) and nodal attributes (i.e. bot probability and political preference). However, a participant’s level of anger expression does not predict the evolution of the observed network.

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New Media & Society, p. 1-20