Let's Get United and #ClearTheShelters: The Factors Contributing to Users' Network Centrality in Online Social Networks

Let's Get United and #ClearTheShelters: The Factors Contributing to Users' Network Centrality in Online Social Networks

Ezgi Akar (Department of Information Systems, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/JITR.299943
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Abstract

This study explores the factors contributing to online users' network centrality in a network on Twitter in the context of a social movement about the “clear the shelters” campaign across the United States. The authors performed a social network analysis on a network including 13,270 Twitter users and 24,354 relationships to reveal users' betweenness, closeness, eigenvector, in-degree, and out-degree centralities before hypothesis testing. They applied a path analysis including users' centrality measures and their user-related features. The path analysis discovered that the factors of the number of people a user follows, the number of followers a user has, and the number of years since a user had his account increased a user's in-degree connections in the network. Together with the user's out-degree connections along with in-degree links, they pushed a user to have a strategic place in the network. They also implemented a multi-group analysis to find whether the impact of these factors showed differences specifically in replies to, mentions, and retweets networks.
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2. Literature Review

2.1. Twitter Network

Twitter is a social media platform for people to communicate and stay connected by exchanging instant messages and information (New User FAQ, n.d.). In this platform, people post tweets containing text, photos, videos, links, and emoticons. A tweet might also include a hashtag and a mention. A hashtag is a highlighted word or a combination of words, including the symbol “#” in front of it (Riquelme & Gonzales-Cantergiani, 2016). A mention, headed by the character “@,” includes another Twitter user's username. Additionally, a user X follows another user Z, then X is called a follower of Z, and Z is called a following of X.

On Twitter, there are different networks such as “retweet”, “replies to”, and “mentions” networks. A retweet is forwarding a tweet to your followers (New User FAQ, n.d.). When a user retweets another user's tweet, a relationship occurs between these two Twitter users. This network is called the “retweet” network. On the other hand, a reply is giving a response to another user's tweet. When a user replies to another user's tweet, then a link happens between these two users. This network is called the “replies to” network. Lastly, a user mentions another user's username in his/her tweet, and again a relationship occurs between these two users. This network is called the “mentions” network. Figure 1 shows a mention, hashtag, and reply.

Figure 1.

Twitter Network

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