Study uncovers six basic types of Twitter conversations

A graph of a polarized crowd created by Pew Research Center and Social Media Research Foundation

A graph of a polarized crowd created by Pew Research Center and Social Media Research Foundation

You pull up your phone to check Twitter, see a couple of tweets that interest you, so you retweet or reply. We’ve all done it, or at least all of us tweeters. What you may not know, though, is that it’s possible to map the dialogue formed from those tweets, retweets and replies into different types of social and conversational structures.

The Pew Research Center and the Social Media Research Foundation analyzed thousands of twitter conversations going back to 2010. They found these conversations occurred based on the structure of the individual’s Twitter network. For example, the subjects and content that a person tweets about, the people they follow, the people who follow them and the way they network creates a structure of social activity. In a recently released report Pew reports that they uncovered six distinct patterns for these structures.

“These are data-driven early steps in understanding Twitter discussion structures that contribute to the emerging science of social participation,” Ben Shneiderman professor of computer science at the University of Maryland and a report-co-author said. “This new field is emerging right before our eyes and could eventually have a large impact on our understanding of everything from health to community safety, from business innovation to citizen science and from civic engagement to sustainable energy programs.”

Read the full story on PBS NewsHour

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