Social world knowledge: Modeling and applications

Nir Lotan, Einat Minkov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social world knowledge is a key ingredient in effective communication and information processing by humans and machines alike. As of today, there exist many knowledge bases that represent factual world knowledge. Yet, there is no resource that is designed to capture social aspects of world knowledge. We believe that this work makes an important step towards the formulation and construction of such a resource. We introduce SocialVec, a general framework for eliciting low-dimensional entity embeddings from the social contexts in which they occur in social networks. In this framework, entities correspond to highly popular accounts which invoke general interest. We assume that entities that individual users tend to co-follow are socially related, and use this definition of social context to learn the entity embeddings. Similar to word embeddings which facilitate tasks that involve text semantics, we expect the learned social entity embeddings to benefit multiple tasks of social flavor. In this work, we elicited the social embeddings of roughly 200K entities from a sample of 1.3M Twitter users and the accounts that they follow. We employ and gauge the resulting embeddings on two tasks of social importance. First, we assess the political bias of news sources in terms of entity similarity in the social embedding space. Second, we predict the personal traits of individual Twitter users based on the social embeddings of entities that they follow. In both cases, we show advantageous or competitive performance using our approach compared with task-specific baselines. We further show that existing entity embedding schemes, which are fact-based, fail to capture social aspects of knowledge. We make the learned social entity embeddings available to the research community to support further exploration of social world knowledge and its applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0283700
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2023 Lotan, Minkov. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Algorithms
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Bases
  • Phenotype
  • Semantics


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