Information diffusion and influence maximization are important and extensively studied problems in social networks. Various models and algorithms have been proposed in the literature in the context of the influence maximization problem. A crucial assumption in all these studies is that the influence probabilities are known to the social planner. This assumption is unrealistic since the influence probabilities are usually private information of the individual agents and strategic agents may not reveal them truthfully. Moreover, the influence probabilities could vary significantly with the type of the information flowing in the network and the time at which the information is propagating in the network. In this paper, we use a mechanism design approach to elicit influence probabilities truthfully from the agents. We first work with a simple model, the influencer model, where we assume that each user knows the level of influence she has on her neighbors but this is private information. In the second model, the influencer-influencee model, which is more realistic, we determine influence probabilities by combining the probability values reported by the influencers and influencees. In the context of the first model, we present how VCG (Vickrey-Clarke-Groves) mechanisms could be used for truthfully eliciting the influence probabilities. Our main contribution is to design a scoring rule based mechanism in the context of the influencer-influencee model. In particular, we show the incentive compatibility of the mechanisms when the scoring rules are proper and propose a reverse weighted scoring rule based mechanism as an appropriate mechanism to use. We also discuss briefly the implementation of such a mechanism in viral marketing applications.
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