Junk News Bubbles Modelling the Rise and Fall of Attention in Online Arenas

Regimes of attention change according to the importace of trendiness in platforms


In this article, we present a type of media disorder which we call ‘junk news bubbles’ and which derives from the effort invested by online platforms and their users to identify and circulate contents with rising popularity. Such emphasis on trending matters, we claim, can have two detrimental effects on public debates: first, it shortens the amount of time available to discuss each matter and second, it increases the ephemeral concentration of media attention. We provide a formal description of the dynamic of junk news bubbles, through a mathematical exploration of the famous ‘public arenas model’ developed by Hilgartner and Bosk in 1988. Our objective is to describe the dynamics of the junk news bubbles as precisely as possible to facilitate its further investigation with empirical data.

In New Media & Society
Maria Castaldo
Maria Castaldo
Researcher in Applied Mathematics and Computational Social Science

My research interests include opinion dynamics, social media and network analysis.