City Research Online

Persistent interaction patterns across social media platforms and over time

Avalle, M., Di Marco, N., Etta, G. , Sangiorgio, E., Alipour, S., Bonetti, A., Alvisi, L., Scala, A., Baronchelli, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-0255-0829, Cinelli, M. & Quattrociocchi, W. (2024). Persistent interaction patterns across social media platforms and over time. Nature, 628(8008), pp. 582-589. doi: 10.1038/s41586-024-07229-y


Growing concern surrounds the impact of social media platforms on public discourse1–4 and their influence on social dynamics5–9, especially in the context of toxicity10–12. Here, to better understand these phenomena, we use a comparative approach to isolate human behavioural patterns across multiple social media platforms. In particular, we analyse conversations in different online communities, focusing on identifying consistent patterns of toxic content. Drawing from an extensive dataset that spans eight platforms over 34 years—from Usenet to contemporary social media—our findings show consistent conversation patterns and user behaviour, irrespective of the platform, topic or time. Notably, although long conversations consistently exhibit higher toxicity, toxic language does not invariably discourage people from participating in a conversation, and toxicity does not necessarily escalate as discussions evolve. Our analysis suggests that debates and contrasting sentiments among users significantly contribute to more intense and hostile discussions. Moreover, the persistence of these patterns across three decades, despite changes in platforms and societal norms, underscores the pivotal role of human behaviour in shaping online discourse.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Mathematics and computing, Social sciences
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Science & Technology
School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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