Estimating user influence in online social networks subject to information overload

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Online social networks have attracted remarkable attention since they provide various approaches for hundreds of millions of people to stay connected with their friends. Due to the existence of information overload, the research on diffusion dynamics in epidemiology cannot be adopted directly to that in online social networks. In this paper, we consider diffusion dynamics in online social networks subject to information overload, and model the information-processing process of a user by a queue with a batch arrival and a finite buffer. We use the average number of times a message is processed after it is generated by a given user to characterize the user influence, which is then estimated through theoretical analysis for a given network. We validate the accuracy of our estimation by simulations, and apply the results to study the impacts of different factors on the user influence. Among the observations, we find that the impact of network size on the user influence is marginal while the user influence decreases with assortativity due to information overload, which is particularly interesting. © 2014 World Scientific Publishing Company.

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International Journal of Modern Physics B