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Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach

Antoci, Angelo and Sabatini, Fabio and Sarracino, Francesco (2016): Online Networks, Social Interaction and Segregation: An Evolutionary Approach.

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We have developed an evolutionary game model, where agents can choose between two forms of social participation: interaction via online social networks and interaction by exclusive means of face-to-face encounters. We illustrate the societal dynamics that the model predicts, in light of the empirical evidence provided by previous literature. We then assess their welfare implications. We show that dynamics, starting from a world in which online social interaction is less gratifying than offline encounters, will lead to the extinction of the sub-population of online networks users, thereby making Facebook and alike disappear in the long run. Furthermore, we show that the higher the propensity for discrimination between the two sub-populations of socially active individuals, the greater the probability that individuals will ultimately segregate themselves, making society fall into a social poverty trap.

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