Memes Online: Extracted, Subtracted, Injected, and Recollected
Matthew P. Simmons, Lada A. Adamic, Eytan Adar

Social media is playing an increasingly vital role in infor- mation dissemination. But with dissemination being more distributed, content often makes multiple hops, and conse- quently has opportunity to change. In this paper we focus on content that should be changing the least, namely quoted text. We find changes to be frequent, with their likelihood depend- ing on the authority of the copied source and the type of site that is copying. We uncover patterns in the rate of appearance of new variants, their length, and popularity, and develop a simple model that is able to capture them. These patterns are distinct from ones produced when all copies are made from the same source, suggesting that information is evolving as it is being processed collectively in online social media.

Preprint: PDF (1 Mb), To appear at ICWSM'11