Trust Propagation with Mixed-Effects Models
Web-based social networks typically use public trust systems to facilitate interactions between strangers. These systems can be corrupted by misleading information spread under the cover of anonymity, or exhibit a strong bias towards positive feedback, originating from the fear of reciprocity. Trust propagation algorithms seek to overcome these shortcomings by inferring trust ratings between strangers from trust ratings between acquaintances and the structure of the network that connects them. We investigate a trust propagation algorithm that is based on user triads where the trust one user has in another is predicted based on an intermediary user. The propagation function can be applied iteratively to propagate trust along paths between a source user and a target user. We evaluate this approach using the trust network of the CouchSurfing community, which consists of 7.6M trust-valued edges between 1.1M users. We show that our model out-performs one that relies only on the trustworthiness of the target user (a kind of public trust system). In addition, we show that performance is significantly improved by bringing in user-level variability using mixed-effects regression models.