Social diffusion sources can escape detection Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2022

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 21


  • 9


  • 25

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2589-0042


  • Influencing others through social networks is fundamental to all human societies. Whether this happens through the diffusion of rumors, opinions, or viruses, identifying the diffusion source (i.e., the person that initiated it) is a problem that has attracted much research interest. Nevertheless, existing literature has ignored the possibility that the source might strategically modify the network structure (by rewiring links or introducing fake nodes) to escape detection. Here, without restricting our analysis to any particular diffusion scenario, we close this gap by evaluating two mechanisms that hide the source┬┐one stemming from the source's actions, the other from the network structure itself. This reveals that sources can easily escape detection, and that removing links is far more effective than introducing fake nodes. Thus, efforts should focus on exposing concealed ties rather than planted entities; such exposure would drastically improve our chances of detecting the diffusion source


  • Sociology
  • Statistics


  • applied sciences; computer science; internet-based information systems; computer systems organization; internet; social sciences