FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro" series
2014 .050

Trust and Manipulation in Social Networks

Authors: Manuel Förster, Ana Mauleon, Vincent J. Vannetelbosch
Series: Climate Change and Sustainable Development
Editor: Carlo Carraro
Keywords: Social networks, Trust,  Manipulation,  Opinion leadership, Consensus, Wisdom of Crowds
JEL n.: D83, D85, Z13


We investigate the role of manipulation in a model of opinion formation. Agents repeatedly communicate with their neighbors in the social network, can exert effort to manipulate the trust of others, and update their opinions about some common issue by taking weighted averages of neighbors' opinions. The incentives to manipulate are given by the agents' preferences. We show that manipulation can modify the trust structure and lead to a connected society. Manipulation fosters opinion leadership, but the manipulated agent may even gain influence on the long-run opinions. Finally, we investigate the tension between information aggregation and spread of misinformation.


Suggested citation: Förster, M., A. Mauleon, V. J. Vannetelbosch, (2014), 'Trust and Manipulation in Social Networks' Nota di Lavoro 50.2014, Milan, Italy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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