Patterns of Information Sharing in Social Networks | Interdisciplinary Lunch Series

Date(s) - 09/27/2013
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Room 283, Carroll Hall

On Sept. 27, 2013, the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will host its first “interdisciplinary lunch” of the year. The lunch is open to faculty and graduate students from across the UNC system. The topic will be “Patterns of information sharing in social networks: Individual differences or unethical disparities?,” led by Dr. Brian G. Southwell.

Social media and peer-to-peer networks have been hailed for their quick and easy sharing capabilities. Users utilize these networks to distribute information of value to them, including the latest medical and health news. However, research on how social network users share science and health information reveals inequities in how that information is shared, and by whom. In a new book, Southwell argues that current emphasis on viral marketing and peer-to-peer information distribution strategies in various sectors overlooks differences between people, networks, and messages in the tendency for sharing. Such differences potentially hold policy relevance for communication professionals, government officials, and non-profit staff and also raise ethical questions as to potential remedies.

Southwell is a research professor with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC. He also is senior research scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., as well as an adjunct associate professor with UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and adjunct professor of energy behavior at Duke University. Southwell’s research has been recognized with numerous national awards; has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other sources; and appears in a variety of publications such as Social Science and Medicine, Communication Theory, and Communication Research, as well as his new book, Social Networks and Popular Understanding of Science and Health: Sharing Disparities, published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

September’s lunch discussion will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. on Friday, September, 27 in Room 283 on the second floor of Carroll Hall. We will provide box lunches and drinks. RSVP using the form below or by emailing by Tuesday, September 24.

Background Readings:

If you are interested in reading more about Southwell’s book, here are a few relevant links:

  • Finally, the book is for sale on Amazon.


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Tagged: Interdisciplinary Lunch Series, Social Media
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