In the age of internet memes spread around the world in very short time, it has been already proved that, in several cases, the mechanism of propagation is very similar to a flu infection. However, this model turns out to be invalid if the spreading is generated by the mass media (TV, radio and the like). This paper aims to explore for the first time this non-viral dynamic (“fallout model”).
Two different dynamic models were developed to explain the viral and the mass media-powered meme propagations, and both were tested using data from Google Trends.
Viral propagation is not the only mechanism of meme diffusion. Memes can also diffuse by a “fallout” model, in which the susceptible populations are affected by the meme messages almost simultaneously, as it happens in the physical world for a radioactive fallout or for other poisoning agents.
This study provides a method to determine whether a certain meme has been diffusing by means of its own viral power or has been “planted” as the result of a commercial advertising campaign or a government propaganda operation.
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