Characterizing Information Propagation in Fringe Communities on Telegram


  • Mohamad Hoseini Max Planck Institute for Informatics
  • Philipe de Freitas Melo Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Universidade Federal de Viçosa
  • Fabrício Benevenuto Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
  • Anja Feldmann Max Planck Institute for Informatics
  • Savvas Zannettou Delft University of Technology



Online messaging platforms are key communication tools but are vulnerable to fake news and conspiracy theories. Mainstream platforms such as Facebook are increasing content moderation of harmful and conspiratorial content. In response, users from fringe communities are migrating to alternative platforms like Telegram. These platforms offer more freedom and less intervention. Currently, Telegram is one of the leading messaging platforms hosting fringe communities. Despite the popularity, as a research community, we lack knowledge of how content spreads over this network. Motivated by the importance and impact of messaging platforms on society, we aim to measure the information propagation within fringe communities on the Telegram network, focusing on how public groups and channels exchange messages. We collect and explore about 140 million messages from 9,000 channels and groups on Telegram. We examine message forwarding and the lifetime of the messages from different aspects. Among other things, we find inequality in content creation; 6% of the users are responsible for 90% of forwarded messages. We also discover that while the forwarding feature considerably amplifies the reach of messages, the spread of content within our dataset remains largely localized. Additionally, we find that 5% of the channels are responsible for 40% of the forwarded messages in the entire dataset. Finally, our lifetime analysis shows that messages disseminated in groups with numerous active users exhibit significantly longer lifespans compared to those circulated in channels.




How to Cite

Hoseini, M., Melo, P. de F., Benevenuto, F., Feldmann, A., & Zannettou, S. (2024). Characterizing Information Propagation in Fringe Communities on Telegram. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 18(1), 583-595.