Digital Media Worse Than Traditional On Talking About Africa


A fascinating set of highlights over a recent report ‘Mapping the global Twitter heartbeat: The geography of Twitter’. Perhaps the brave new world of online media isn’t quite as fair and international as we might like to think.

Other than that revealed in the tweet that lured me in, there’s a bunch of very interesting info on how to get proper geographical data from Twitter. Where people tweet from, apparently, has little influence on, well, their online influence (square brackets my own):

Kalet et al. [the authors] also carried out a comprehensive analysis of geo-tagged retweets. They find that “geography plays little role in the location of influential users, with the volume of retweets instead simply being a factor of the total population of tweets originating from that city.” They also calculated that the average geographical distance between two Twitter users “connected” by retweets (RTs) and who geotag their tweets is about 750 miles or 1,200 kilometers. When a Twitter user references another (@), the average geographical distance between the two is 744 miles. This means that RTs and @’s cannot be used for geo-referencing Twitter data, even when coupling this information with time zone data.

Read the full report here

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2 thoughts on “Digital Media Worse Than Traditional On Talking About Africa

  1. Users who retweet or reference another user just once are seen to have an average distance of around 800 miles, which decreases exponentially with the number of connections through a minimum of 605 miles for retweets and 524 miles for references. These minimums occur for users who are connected nine times, with distance increasing once again for users who are connected more than nine times. There were less than 100 users each for X>61 for retweets and X>116 for references, but it can be seen that the average distance for reference pairings continues to increase through these maximums. The results are identical for geocoded users. The fact that the average distance between a pair of users decreases the more often they communicate strongly supports the notion that users communicate more often with those closest to them. Yet, the fact that this distance then increases linearly after nine connections suggests that users who communicate more than this are more likely to be connected with celebrities, public figures, and others for whom distance is less important.

  2. The project also looked at the geography of retweeting, with the map above showing the physical distance between people has surprising little influence on people when it comes to their retweets. According to the study, “average distance between all 32.5 million retweet pairings in which both users have known Exact Location positions is 749 statute miles” or around 1200 kilometres. For a full size version see here .

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