Abstract for: Information Diffusion through Social Networks: the Case of an Online Petition (Dana Meadows Award Winner)

People regularly use online social networks due to their convenience, efficiency, and significant broadcasting power for sharing information. However, the diffusion of information in online social networks is a complex and dynamic process. In this research, we use a case study to specify the diffusion process of a petition. The spread of a petition in social networks raises various theoretical and practical question: What is the diffusion rate? What actions can initiators take to speed up the diffusion rate? How does the behavior of sharing between friends influence the diffusion process? How does the number of signatures change over time? In order to address these questions, we used dynamic modeling to specify and quantify the core mechanisms of petition diffusion online. We specified the diffusion process of a petition, and based on empirical data, estimated the resulting dynamic model. The modeling approach provides potential practical insights for those interested in designing and collecting signatures on petitions. Comparing different scenarios, we provided additional insights into the pragmatics of similar diffusion processes.