Twitter Alert

Having a huge following on Twitter is no guarantee of being influential according to researchers.

Express September 27, 2010

Ashton Kutcher has more than five million followers on Twitter. When singer John Mayer closed his account his devotees numbered over three million but having a huge following on Twitter is no guarantee of being influential.

Researchers at Northwestern University said with new technology they can sift through the tens of millions of tweets sent each day on the micro-blogging website to pinpoint the most influential people on the hot topic of the day.

And it may not be the celebrity with the most followers.

“People think that just because you have a huge number of followers you may potentially be an influencer, and that is not the case,” said Professor Alok Choudhary, the chair of the electrical engineering and computer science department at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Sports star LeBron James, for example, may influence people when he tweets about basketball but he does not have as much clout if he voices his ideas about the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice, according to Choudhary.

“The idea was how do we determine what are the important tweets and who are the people who really influence others in real time,” he explained in an interview.

Using massive data mining of texts, network analysis and real-time response measures Choudhary and Ramanathan Narayanan, a graduate student at the university, developed a website to rank the most influential tweeters on a topic.

The site,, resulted from Narayanan’s thesis project.

“So, which tweets should you read? Which tweets are being read by media experts on any given subject, such as politics, law, fashion, food? We provide that information,” said Narayanan.

The recently launched site also determines whether the tweets are positive, negative or neutral and filters out spam.

The researchers believe the technology could identify trends and the people who are influencing them.

“Our premise is that influencers are those that dynamically change the opinions of people on specific topics, or the topic of the moment. So in real time we can determine how people are getting influenced for an important topic,” he added.

We present the best tweets of the week.

Conan O’Brien

We shouldn’t name hurricanes. It only encourages them.

Sonam Kapoor

I love comic books. And I’m a big fan of comic book heroes.

Paula Abdul

Start the day by being grateful for what you have right now. You’d be amazed at the shift in your mindset

Ali Zafar

Waiting for the day when government officials will reduce their own expenses which according to the finance minister are the basic cause of high prices for the poor.

Dia Mirza

“Afreen Afreen” [by] Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He lives on. Love his music.

Preity Zinta

Ma (mom) is my only parent left. She is my mirror. I tell her everything because I know she will never judge me and I can get things off my chest.

Amitabh Bachchan

Every day is a convincing example that the ‘common man’ is not common at all. He or she is the most special.

Abhishek Bachchan

Nothing is often a good thing to do and always a good thing to say. Hence silence.

Jay Sean

Today’s thought of the day: Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to.

Taylor Swift

Walked out of my room and my mom says to the hair/make-up team, “You guys sure got your work cut out for you this morning, don’t you...”

With additional information from Reuters

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.


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