In online social networks, large information cascades can develop as people share content with one another. However, as these cascades develop through complex processes, prior work has argued that their future trajectory may be inherently unpredictable. My research introduces methods for studying the mechanisms of these cascades and predicting their spread. Analyzing billions of interactions by hundreds of millions of users on Facebook, I show how the future growth and structure of these cascades can be predicted, how cascades may resurface after lying dormant for months, and how diverse social protocols can produce large information cascades. Through revealing the mechanisms in which information diffuses in social media, this work explores a future where systems can better promote sharing behavior online.
Presented at the Stanford Human-Computer Interaction Seminar.