AAAI Publications, Tenth International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

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User Migration in Online Social Networks: A Case Study on Reddit During a Period of Community Unrest
Edward Newell, David Jurgens, Haji Mohammad Saleem, Hardik Vala, Jad Sassine, Caitrin Armstrong, Derek Ruths

Last modified: 2016-03-31

Abstract


Platforms like Reddit have attracted large and vibrant communities, but the individuals in those communities are free to migrate to other platforms at any time. History has borne this out with the mass migration from Slashdot to Digg. The underlying motivations of individuals who migrate between platforms, and the conditions that favor migration online are not well-understood. We examine Reddit during a period of community unrest affecting millions of users in the summer of 2015, and analyze large-scale changes in user behavior and migration patterns to Reddit-like alternative platforms. Using self-reported statements from user comments, surveys, and a computational analysis of the activity of users with accounts on multiple platforms, we identify the primary motivations driving user migration. While a notable number of Reddit users left for other platforms, we found that an important pull factor that enabled Reddit to retain users was its long tail of niche content. Other platforms may reach critical mass to support popular or “mainstream” topics, but Reddit’s large userbase provides a key advantage in supporting niche topics.

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