Tweet Forensics: Occupy vs. Tea Party


Occupy Wall Street Twitter network 15 Nov 2011.: Credit: Marc Smith, Social Media Research Foundation.Occupy Wall Street Twitter network as of November 15 2011. [Click the image for a larger version] Credit: Marc Smith/Social Media Research FoundationHere’s an interesting analysis by Marc Smith at the Social Media Research Foundation in Belmont, California, of the difference between Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party tweeters. The above image shows the OWS network. Here’s how it’s described on Marc Smith’s Flickr page:

These are the connections among the Twitter users who recently tweeted the word occupywallstreet when queried on November 15, 2011, scaled by numbers of followers (with outliers thresholded). Connections created when users reply, mention or follow one another. Relies and mentions edges are highlighted in blue, follows connections are grey. The data set starts on 11/15/2011 23:08 and ends on 11/15/2011 23:34 UTC, a total of 26 minutes of traffic.

Tea Party Twitter network 15 Nov 2011.: Credit: Marc Smith, Social Media Research Foundation.Tea Party Twitter network as of November 15th 2011. [Click on the image for a larger version] Credit: Marc Smith/Social Media Research Foundation.And here’s the Twitter network formed by Tea Party users. From Marc Smith’s Flickr page:

These are the connections among the Twitter users who recently tweeted the word teaparty when queried on November 15, 2011, scaled by numbers of followers (with outliers thresholded). Connections created when users reply, mention or follow one another. Relies and mentions edges are highlighted in blue, follows connections are grey. The data set starts on 11/15/2011 14:22 UTC and ends on 11/15/2011 17:23, a total of 3 hours and 1 minute of traffic.

As you can see, the OWS network is bigger, more diffuse, more active, and less centered on already established Twitter relationships. Basically, it’s more viral. The Tea Party network is more contained, less contagious. Peter Aldhous at New Scientist writes:

Compared to Occupy, the Tea Party supporters have a much denser network of following relationships. “The Tea Party is an ‘in group’ thing,” Smith argues. But for now, at least, the conversation within this group is muted compared to that surrounding Occupy—not only is the rate of tweets much slower, but fewer of the relationships show up in blue, indicating an active response to a post.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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