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Title: Reducing Access Disparities in Networks using Edge Augmentation
In social networks, a node’s position is, in and of itself, a form of social capital. Better-positioned members not only benefit from (faster) access to diverse information, but innately have more potential influence on information spread. Structural biases often arise from network formation, and can lead to significant disparities in information access based on position. Further, processes such as link recommendation can exacerbate this inequality by relying on network structure to augment connectivity. In this paper, we argue that one can understand and quantify this social capital through the lens of information flow in the network. In contrast to prior work, we consider the setting where all nodes may be sources of distinct information, and a node’s (dis)advantage takes into account its ability to access all information available on the network, not just that from a single source. We introduce three new measures of advantage (broadcast, influence, and control), which are quantified in terms of position in the network using access signatures – vectors that represent a node’s ability to share information with each other node in the network. We then consider the problem of improving equity by making interventions to increase the access of the least-advantaged nodes. Since all nodes are already sources of information in our model, we argue that edge augmentation is most appropriate for mitigating bias in the network structure, and frame a budgeted intervention problem for maximizing broadcast (minimum pairwise access) over the network. Finally, we propose heuristic strategies for selecting edge augmentations and empirically evaluate their performance on a corpus of real-world social networks. We demonstrate that a small number of interventions can not only significantly increase the broadcast measure of access for the least-advantaged nodes (over 5 times more than random), but also simultaneously improve the minimum influence. Additional analysis shows that edge augmentations targeted at improving minimum pairwise access can also dramatically shrink the gap in advantage between nodes (over ) and reduce disparities between their access signatures.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1955321
NSF-PAR ID:
10444854
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1635 to 1651
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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