Most content on Facebook is shared a few times but some can be shared millions of times. Now computer scientists are beginning to understand the difference.
One of the defining features of social content is the way pictures, video and text is shared among many users. Inevitably, some content becomes more popular than others and this leads to cascades in which the number of reshares can be huge. While most pieces of media have only a few shares, some are reshared many millions of times.
So there is much interest in finding out how to predict something that is likely to be popular compared to something that is not. On the face of it, it’s easy to think that predicting the popularity of content is almost impossible. That’s because it depends on so many factors that are difficult to measure, such as the nature of the content and the connectivity of the people who see it.