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Large Scale Studies of Social Information on Twitter
Monday, November 07, 2011, 12:00pm - 07:00pm
Rutgers University, School of Communication and Information
First, we look at how network properties relate to persistence of ties on Twitter. Building on concepts and theories from sociology such as strength of ties, embeddedness, and status, we examine how network structure is associated with the breaking of ties between individuals in Twitter's directed social network. We investigate this "unfollowing" phenomenon using a set of 245,000 Twitter edges, and the persistence or disappearance of these edges after nine months. Our analysis suggests that structural properties of the network have a significant association with the persistence of ties on Twitter, and helps us reason in a new way about status and power intrinsic to Twitter.
Second, we examine theories of gender and communication in Twitter's social interactions, where we can observe personal exchanges in natural, semi-public settings. Using 78,000 "reply" messages exchanged between 1753 gender-coded pairs of Twitter users, we study the relationship between gender composition and language use, while controlling for the strength of connection between the conversing users. Results are in line with previous findings and theories from sociolinguistic and communication, for example, showing that women express more positive emotion, and use more intensifier adverbs and pronouns, especially when communicating with other women. This initial investigation helps the understanding of gender-driven communication patterns in social media, and raises questions about how these communication tendencies are heightened in semi-public settings.