The world of connections and information flow in twitter

Meeyoung Cha, Fabrício Benevenuto, Hamed Haddadi, Krishna Gummadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

94 Citations (Scopus)


Information propagation in online social networks like Twitter is unique in that word-of-mouth propagation and traditional media sources coexist. We collect a large amount of data from Twitter to compare the relative roles different types of users play in information flow. Using empirical data on the spread of news about major international headlines as well as minor topics, we investigate the relative roles of three types of information spreaders: 1) mass media sources like BBC; 2) grassroots, consisting of ordinary users; and 3) evangelists, consisting of opinion leaders, politicians, celebrities, and local businesses. Mass media sources play a vital role in reaching the majority of the audience in any major topics. Evangelists, however, introduce both major and minor topics to audiences who are further away from the core of the network and would otherwise be unreachable. Grassroots users are relatively passive in helping spread the news, although they account for the 98% of the network. Our results bring insights into what contributes to rapid information propagation at different levels of topic popularity, which we believe are useful to the designers of social search and recommendation engines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6156464
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Part A:Systems and Humans
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012



  • Computer mediated communication
  • social network services
  • twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this