Twitter Data Mining

Data mining done on the social network has some surprising results.

A recent study led by Lu Chen from Wright State University in Dayton, OH titled “U.S. Religious Landscape on Twitter” has revealed that if religion is used as a base for comparison, Atheists and Muslims are the most active on Twitter, whereas Jews and Christians are the least active. The study was based on people who identified as Muslim, Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or Hindu on their Twitter Profiles.

The ease of data mining on Twitter facilitated this significant study. The research involved 250,000 Twitter users, with the researchers scrutinizing through 96 million tweets. Furthermore, the research involved the users’ followers and the people they themselves are following. The studied users had to be from the U.S and identify as either being atheist or religious. These groups of subjects were compared against a control group of users who had no religious identification.

The study made some remarkable discoveries:

  • Atheists tweeted the most, with an average tweet count per each user of 3976.8, with Muslims at a close second with 3836.5 tweets per user on average. Of all specifically religious groups, Muslims and Jews had the highest number of friends and followers.
  • Users who identified as Christian tweeted the least of all persons who declared as religious or atheist, with an average tweets per user of 1981.
  • The researchers identified a number of distinctive words that some of the users tend to use regularly to identify with their grouping. Christians often use ‘Christ’, ‘Pray’, ‘Worship’, ‘Pastor’, and ‘God’ in their tweets. On the other side, atheists regularly use ‘science’, ‘evolution’, and ‘evidence.’
  • The most popular religious personalities on Twitter included Pope Francis – on top with 4.5 million followers – Rick Warren, Dalai Lama, Richard Dawkins, and Tim Tebow.

The study had some major discrepancies. One such situation is an outlier where, according to the group’s data, Utah is among the least religious states, yet the Gallup poll places Utah in the second position based on the number of religious people within the population. However, this can be attributed to the fact that Mormonism – the most popular religion in the region – was not included in the study.

In spite of these differences; however, the research noted that studied groups tend to have similar concerns across the board. The groups tweeted similar keywords throughout the period of study with words such as ‘happy’, ‘life’, ‘work’, and ‘love’ topping the list. The research proves how religion and social media are intertwined.

Find the full report here: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1409.8578v1

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter