Propagation of the news of OBL’s death via Twitter

May 6, 2011

(This article was first published on Revolutions, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

SocialFlow's blog has a great case study today on how news from a single tweet — in this case, speculation made an hour before the President's announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed — can propagate through social networks.

At 10:24 p.m. EST on Sunday May 1, Keith Urbahn tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn." This information was rapidly repeated (in Twitter parlance, retweeted) by Keith's followers, and their followers, and so on. The rate of dissemination peaked rapidly as shown in the chart below (which I'm pretty sure is a chart created in R):

Tweet frequency

But it's the way in which the information propagated through the Twitter social network that's fascinating. When NYT reporter Brian Stelter retweeted, the information spread rapidly:

Visualizing a the spread of a tweet

Read the full post at the SocialFlow blog for the full story of how information like this propagates through Twitter.

SocialFlow: Breaking Bin Laden: visualizing the power of a single tweet

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