A News Medium Twist to the Twitter Tale

While Twitter is conventionally perceived to be a Social Networking Site, there might be much more to it that what it seems. The analysis by group of Korean researchers states that the structure and usage of Twitter is more closely associated to a traditional news media unit. This analysis has given a new dimension to the way Twitter is sought after. You may think of it as easy to publish news site where anyone and everyone may be a reporter, only that the news dispatched should maintain the 140 character limit.

On Friday, Haewoon Kwak a member of the research team that conducted the research presented their report in the WWW2010 conference held in Raleigh in North Carolina. In the report, Kwak stated a number of ways in which Twitter differed from the other networking websites. He also described in details the mathematical studies performed by his team in order to highlight on how people easily share their information in a unique manner on Twitter as compared to the other socializing websites. According to the report, the team gathered the information regarding 41.7 million unique user profiles. The team then pulled out 106 million Twitter tweets and then closely followed about 4,262 trending topics that were identified using the hash tags.

With most of the social networking sites, it is observed that the user needs to acquire permission from the other user in order to interact with them or view their updates. On the contrary, Twitter allows you to follow ‘tweets’ from other users even without having to get their permission, if the tweets are set as public by the user. As Kwak pointed out, this trait of Twitter is more similar to the RSS subscription as seen in blogs. This observation was the fountainhead of their research. It led the research team to ponder over whether Twitter was more closely linked to the news medium as opposed to a social network.

As the team went on with their research, the stats supported their idea. It was observed that out of the huge number of following that was happening on Twitter, merely a 22 percent was reciprocal. This number happened to be way too low as compared to the archetypal sites with a social media format viz. Flickr – with a 68 percent and the famous Cyworld – with a 77 percent.

Also, as seen with any variation of media, which includes the news units, Twitter also has its extremely popular or the ‘Star’ Users. A few users stand out with a whooping number of followers as compared to the others.

Even the nature of messages on Twitter is similar to that of a news bulletins. This comes across even more strongly as the users now post their tweets under the title of “What’s Happening?” It was also observed that pretty often, tweets contained citations of ‘breaking news’ events even before they featured on leading news channels like CNN. Statistically, both almost cut even.

This research has brought up an interesting introspection of the Twitter service and Twitter is showing signs of supporting the research findings with the decision to start adverts in their search results.

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