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What is Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media?

Twitter is comprised of 41.7 million users with 1.37 billion social relations. Users are ranked by the number of followers to identify influentials. Twitter will track phrases, words, and hashtags that are most used and will post them under the title of “trending topics”. The top users with the most followers in this network are mostly celebrities and mass media. These users typically do not follow their followers back. Homophily is also mentioned in this article. Two users who follow reciprocally will share topical interests. In this case, it is viewed in geographic location and popularity. Users will self-report their location. The number of followers a user has is used as an indicator of the user’s popularity. This article looks into the number of r-friends’ followers as well. Users with 1000 followers are less are likely to be geographically close to their r-friends and have similar popularity with r-friends. The distribution of followers is not power-law and the degree of separation is shorter than expected. When looking at reciprocated relationships, they exhibit some level of homophily. If Twitter was ranked by the number of retweets, then the ranking would be different and indicate a gap in influence inferred from the number of followers and from the popularity in one’s tweets.

Homophily is the principle that we tend to be similar to our friends. Friends are usually generally similar to you in race, age, and geography. In this article, the homophily was based off of the geography. The links in a social network tend to connect people that are similar to each other. When people tend to form friendships with others who are similar to them, it is called selection. People select friends with similar characteristics.


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November 2018