and Figure 2 outlines the distribution of
these “most popular” tweets.
Almost two-thirds of the most popular tweets on Egypt-related topics
were news, communicating important
updates on unfolding events, while
inspirational and humor tweets each
represented 15%–20% of the popular
tweets. The topic “egyptians” was the
source of more than half of the inspirational tweets.
Not Another super Bowl
To see how Egypt compared to other
trending Twitter topics, we chose several related and unrelated topics that
trended at the same time across several categories in Figure 3. We chose
them by scanning the topics that
trended during the same period and
selecting those covering four categories—politics, entertainment, sports,
and tech/business—to include other
popular topics during the same period.
For each one, we collected data on the
network of follower relationships between users tweeting on a particular
topic and the sentiment expressed in
the tweets on the topic. We analyzed
aspects of the data for both Egyptian
and non-Egyptian topics to determine
what characteristics of Twitter users
and their tweets separated the Egyptian revolution from other Twitter topics (see Figure 4).
We found that while users tweeting
on Egypt-related topics had more followers tweeting on the same topic, the
clustering coefficient of the follower
networks was lower. The clustering coefficient, or “fraction of transitive triples,” is defined in graph theory as the
fraction of follower relationships with
users in common forming a triangle;
for example, if user A follows user B and
user B follows (or is followed by) user C,
how often does A follow C or vice versa?
Follower networks for the Egyptian topics were essentially less “clique-ish,”
forming fewer tight groups despite having a similar number of follower relationships. This fact suggests the users
tweeting on Egypt-related topics came
from several different social groups
both inside and outside Egypt.
We also found users tweeted more on
average on Egypt-related topics, though
their tweets were much more likely
to be retweets, or echoes of tweets by
other, presumably more authoritative,
our Web site ( http://www.pulseofthetweeters.com) has been collecting information
on all trending topics on Twitter since feb. 2010. Pulse of the Tweeters (see the figure
here) allows users to search trending topics or just scan for topics that are similar to
reveal how tweeters feel about particular topics and provide a breakdown of positive
vs. negative sentiment concerning them, along with total number of tweets. Users also
browse tweeters who have posted on a topic, sorting by influence, number of followers,
and number of tweets. They can also find tweeters’ home pages and most recent tweets
on the topic by clicking on user names.
We gleaned the information on the site through Twitter’s representational state
transfer API to collect daily trending topics, as well as information on all tweets related
to the topic. We continually analyze tweet and user data for sentiment and influence
using techniques we have developed at the Center for Ultra-scale Computing and
Information Science at Northwestern (Alok Choudhary, director).
Pulse of a Revolution
Pulse of the tweeters.
users, and more likely to express negative sentiment. With so many tweets on
Egypt-related topics expressed in negative terms, the average user sentiment
for Egypt-related networks (number of
positive tweets minus negative tweets)
was negative, notably unlike the other
categories we considered.
We took an in-depth look at the ways
the Egyptian revolution, late Janu-
table 3. example popular tweets.
RT @Breakingnews: 3 private jets leave Cairo airport under heavy security;
#Egypt parliament speaker to make major announcement - nBC #Jan25
RT @cnnbrk: Clarification: Key members resign posts in Egypt's ruling party.
hosni Mubarak remains head of party & president.
RT @paulocoelho: To people in Tahrir Square: We are all Egyptians today/hoje ns
somos todos egpcios
RT @nickKristof: here's nawal el-Saddawi, famed women's leader. She's 80-but
told me she will sleep in #Tahrir. http://twitpic.com/3w5bsc
RT @TheOnion: hosni Mubarak Reaches out To Twitter Followers For ideas
on how To Keep Regime intact #Egypt #jan25
RT @pourmecoffee: Egyptians camped out in Cairo. For Americans, think of it
as like the release of new Apple product if Apple made freedom.