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Social media and threshold

Nowadays, with an increase usage of smartphones, the number of social networks users also dramatically increased. And because there are so many people utilizing such service, more and more studies are being done on social network behaviors. In fact, the first article that I found is an example of such study on social network and people’s behaviors. It probes how opinions, decisions and behaviors of individuals can be influenced by their online networks, and vice versa as discussed in lectures. The article states that “people in social networks are often influenced by each other’s decisions, resulting in a run of behaviors in which their choices become highly correlated, thus causing a cascade of decisions.” This idea can be linked directly to the concepts covered in homework 6 problems. In those problems, we learned that once there are enough number of people with the same decision, other people follow such decision–fall into cascade–without contemplating. And what this article discusses about is precisely the same.

Moreover, this article talks about “the number of ‘favorable’ decisions,” as known as threshold in this class. When there are just enough number of people with such decision, the cascade of decision can be started. For example, when Facebook first came about to the public, it was not as ‘big’ as it is now. Granted the company grew over time with more investors, but we cannot ignore the role of people who advertised the network by word-of-mouth effects. In fact, I first made my account in middle school when I realized that majority of the class had a Facebook account. In other words, I fell into cascade when I learned the threshold number.

With more evident decisions and opinions of others, people fall into cascade more easily. And thus more and more people are using such cascading behavior in a social network to achieve a certain desired outcome in terms of advertisement, political movement, and etc. In fact, only recently, the National Intelligence of South Korea was accused of manipulating the public opinion during the election period using the social media. The Democratic party strongly stated that the conservative party–the party of the incumbent president Park–utilized the National Intelligence to manipulate the political movement in numerous social media; it turned out that a member of the National Intelligence indeed utilized the social media in political movement, but no special reports have been after.

Although it is difficult to say no when everyone else is saying yes, it seems like making a decision so that one does not fall into a cascade is needed since such cascade behavior can be abused.


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November 2015