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Research on the Million Follower Fallacy Receives the Test of Time Award
Professor Meeyoung Cha’s research investigating the correlation between the number of followers on social media and its influence was re-highlighted after 10 years of publication of the paper. Saying that her research is still as relevant today as the day it was published 10 years ago, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) presented Professor Cha from the School of Computing with the Test of Time Award during the 14th International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM) held online June 8 through 11. In her 2010 paper titled ‘Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy,’ Professor Cha proved that number of followers does not match the influential power. She investigated the data including 54,981,152 user accounts, 1,963,263,821 social links, and 1,755,925,520 Tweets, collected with 50 servers. The research compares and illustrates the limitations of various methods used to measure the influence a user has on a social networking platform. These results provided new insights and interpretations to the influencer selection algorithm used to maximize the advertizing impact on big social networking platforms. The research also looked at how long an influential user was active for, and whether the user could freely cross the borders between fields and be influential on different topics as well. By analyzing cases of who becomes an influencer when new events occur, it was shown that a person could quickly become an influencer using several key tactics, unlike what was previously claimed by the ‘accidental influential theory’. Professor Cha explained, “At the time, data from social networking platforms did not receive much attention in computer science, but I remember those all-nighters I pulled to work on this project, fascinated by the fact that internet data could be used to solve difficult social science problems. I feel so grateful that my research has been endeared for such a long time.” Professor Cha received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from KAIST, and conducted this research during her postdoctoral course at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. She now also serves as a chief investigator of a data science group at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS). (END)
A Global Campaign of ‘Facts before Rumors’ on COVID-19 Launched
- A KAIST data scientist group responds to facts and rumors on COVID-19 for global awareness of the pandemic. - Like the novel coronavirus, rumors have no borders. The world is fighting to contain the pandemic, but we also have to deal with the appalling spread of an infodemic that is as contagious as the virus. This infodemic, a pandemic of false information, is bringing chaos and extreme fear to the general public. Professor Meeyoung Cha’s group at the School of Computing started a global campaign called ‘Facts before Rumors,’ to prevent the spread of false information from crossing borders. She explained, “We saw many rumors that had already been fact-checked long before in China and South Korea now begin to circulate in other countries, sometimes leading to detrimental results. We launched an official campaign, Facts before Rumors, to deliver COVID-19-related facts to countries where the number of cases is now increasing.” She released the first set of facts on March 26 via her Twitter account @nekozzang. Professor Cha, a data scientist who has focused on detecting global fake news, is now part of the COVID-19 AI Task Force at the Global Strategy Institute at KAIST. She is also leading the Data Science Group at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) as Chief Investigator. Her research group worked in collaboration with the College of Nursing at Ewha Woman’s University to identify 15 claims about COVID-19 that circulated on social networks (SNS) and among the general public. The team fact-checked these claims based on information from the WHO and CDCs of Korea and the US. The research group is now working on translating the list of claims into Portuguese, Spanish, Persian, Chinese, Amharic, Hindi, and Vietnamese. Delivering facts before rumors, the team says, will help contain the disease and prevent any harm caused by misinformation. The pandemic, which spread in China and South Korea before arriving in Europe and the US, is now moving into South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. “We would like to play a part in preventing the further spread of the disease with the provision of only scientifically vetted, truthful facts,” said the team. For this campaign, Professor Cha’s team investigated more than 200 rumored claims on COVID-19 in China during the early days of the pandemic. These claims spread in different levels: while some were only relevant locally or in larger regions of China, others propagated in Asia and are now spreading to countries that are currently most affected by the disease. For example, the false claim which publicized that ‘Fireworks can help tame the virus in the air’ only spread in China. Other claims such as ‘Eating garlic helps people overcome the disease’ or ‘Gargling with salt water prevents the contraction of the disease,’ spread around the world even after being proved groundless. The team noted, however, that the times at which these claims propagate are different from one country to another. “This opens up an opportunity to debunk rumors in some countries, even before they start to emerge,” said Professor Cha. Kun-Woo Kim, a master’s candidate in the Department of Industrial Design who joined this campaign and designed the Facts before Rumors chart also expressed his hope that this campaign will help reduce the number of victims. He added, “I am very grateful to our scientists who quickly responded to the Fact Check in these challenging times.”
COVID-19 Map Shows How the Global Pandemic Moves
- A School of Computing team facilitated the data from COVID-19 to show the global spread of the virus. - The COVID-19 map made by KAIST data scientists shows where and how the virus is spreading from China, reportedly the epicenter of the disease. Professor Meeyoung Cha from the School of Computing and her group facilitated data based on the number of confirmed cases from January 22 to March 22 to analyze the trends of this global epidemic. The statistics include the number of confirmed cases, recoveries, and deaths across major continents based on the number of confirmed case data during that period. The moving dot on the map strikingly shows how the confirmed cases are moving across the globe. According to their statistics, the centroid of the disease starts from near Wuhan in China and moved to Korea, then through the European region via Italy and Iran. The data is collected by a graduate student from the School of Computing, Geng Sun, who started the process during the time he was quarantined since coming back from his home in China. An undergraduate colleague of Geng's, Gabriel Camilo Lima who made the map, is now working remotely from his home in Brazil since all undergraduate students were required to move out of the dormitory last week. The university closed all undergraduate housing and advised the undergraduate students to go back home in a preventive measure to stop the virus from spreading across the campus. Gabriel said he calculated the centroid of all confirmed cases up to a given day. He explained, “I weighed each coordinate by the number of cases in that region and country and calculated an approximate center of gravity.” “The Earth is round, so the shortest path from Asia to Europe is often through Russia. In early March, the center of gravity of new cases was moving from Asia to Europe. Therefore, the centroid is moving to the west and goes through Russia, even though Russia has not reported many cases,” he added. Professor Cha, who is also responsible for the Data Science Group at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) as the Chief Investigator, said their group will continue to update the map using public data at https://ds.ibs.re.kr/index.php/covid-19/. (END)
Professor Meeyoung Cha, First Young Information Scientist Awardee from KAIST
< Professor Meeyoung Cha (Left) > Professor Meeyoung Cha from the School of Computing was awarded the fourth Young Information Scientist Award by the Korean Institute of Information Scientists and Engineers (KIISE) last month. Professor Cha is the first from KAIST to win the prize since its establishment under the auspices of the WWW 2014 organizing committee. The Young Information Scientist Award is awarded to scientists under the age of 40 who have contributed to the development of information science and excelled in research and development in their field. Professor Cha played a leading role as a young information scientist, having been cited more than 13,000 times in other research papers on fake news detection, lightweight and robust representation of economic scales from satellite imagery, and the development of insomnia detection models. Reputed as a promising researcher, Professor Cha has been selected as the chief investigator at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) since January 2019 where she has been operating the Data Science Group under the Center for Mathematical and Computational Sciences. Professor Cha was also invited as a keynote speaker to the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), an international academic conference held in Hong Kong in November 2019, where she gave a lecture on “Current Challenges in Computational Social Science” for 1,900 attendees. (END)
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