Geography of Twitter Networks

Social NetworksSocial Networks, Available online 25 August 2011

Yuri Takhteyev, Anatoliy Gruzd, and Barry Wellman

“Highlights:

  • We examine the influence of distance and related variables on Twitter ties.
  • A substantial share of ties (39%) lies within the same metropolitan region.
  • For non-local ties distance, borders, and language differences affect Twitter ties.
  • The number of airline flights between the parties is the best predictor of ties.

“The paper examines the influence of geographic distance, national boundaries, language, and frequency of air travel on the formation of social ties on Twitter, a popular micro-blogging website. Based on a large sample of publicly available Twitter data, our study shows that a substantial share of ties lies within the same metropolitan region, and that between regional clusters, distance, national borders and language differences all predict Twitter ties. We find that the frequency of airline flights between the two parties is the best predictor of Twitter ties. This highlights the importance of looking at pre-existing ties between places and people.”