You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to tweet. Whether your 140 characters pertain to your career, hobbies or love of Justin Bieber, a new study shows that the language you use while tweeting determines your Twitter community.
At study from the University of London explores the ways in which social media sites like Twitter create communities of like-minded people. Researchers were able to predict with up to 80 percent accuracy which Twitter community, or “tribe,” someone belonged to just by examining the language they used while tweeting.
“We searched for unusual words that are used a lot by one community but relatively infrequently by the others,” said John Bryden from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway. “For example, one community often mentioned Justin Bieber, while another talked about President Obama.”
But it wasn’t just the topic of tweets that helped researchers determine who fell into what Twitter community.
“Interestingly, just as people have varying regional accents, we also found that communities would misspell words in different ways,” said Vincent Jansen, a professor from Royal Holloway. “The Justin Bieber fans have a habit of ending words in ‘ee,’ as in ‘pleasee,’ while school teachers use long words.”
Researchers were able to create a map of Twitter “tribes” that demonstrates what users in each community have in common. Often, community members share something that is easily identified, such as a vocation, ethnicity, political affiliation or hobby. But in some cases, the commonalities of Twitter users are less tangible.
“Surprising groups started to emerge that we weren’t expecting,” said Sebastian Funk of Princeton University. “One ‘anipals’ group was interested in hosting parties to raise funds for animal welfare, while another was a fascinating growing community interested in the concept of gratitude.”