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Concept: Twitter


Background: Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Social media such as Twitter is an emerging surveillance tool that may assist researchers in tracking suicide risk factors in real time. Aims: To identify suicide-related risk factors through Twitter conversations by matching on geographic suicide rates from vital statistics data. Method: At-risk tweets were filtered from the Twitter stream using keywords and phrases created from suicide risk factors. Tweets were grouped by state and departures from expectation were calculated. The values for suicide tweeters were compared against national data of actual suicide rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Results: A total of 1,659,274 tweets were analyzed over a 3-month period with 37,717 identified as at-risk for suicide. Midwestern and western states had a higher proportion of suicide-related tweeters than expected, while the reverse was true for southern and eastern states. A strong correlation was observed between state Twitter-derived data and actual state age-adjusted suicide data. Conclusion: Twitter may be a viable tool for real-time monitoring of suicide risk factors on a large scale. This study demonstrates that individuals who are at risk for suicide may be detected through social media.

Concepts: United States, Sociology, U.S. state, Eastern Europe, Western culture, Cold War, Midwestern United States, Twitter


To investigate potential violations of patient confidentiality or other breaches of medical ethics committed by physicians and medical students active on the social networking site Twitter.

Concepts: Physician, Doctor-patient relationship, Internet, Social network service, Twitter, Hippocratic Oath


Twitter is an increasingly popular means of research dissemination. I sought to examine the relation between scientific merit and mainstream popularity of general medical journals.

Concepts: Scientific method, Ecology, Sociology, Mass media, Twitter, Popular culture


The academic scandal on a study on stimulus‑triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells in Japan in 2014 involved suspicions of scientific misconduct by the lead author of the study after the paper had been reviewed on a peer‑review website. This study investigated the discussions on STAP cells on Twitter and content of newspaper articles in an attempt to assess the role of social compared with traditional media in scientific peer review.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academia, Peer review, Review, Mass media, Journalism, Twitter, Scientific misconduct


Enthusiasm for using Twitter as a source of data in the social sciences extends to measuring the impact of research with Twitter data being a key component in the new altmetrics approach. In this paper, we examine tweets containing links to research articles in the field of dentistry to assess the extent to which tweeting about scientific papers signifies engagement with, attention to, or consumption of scientific literature. The main goal is to better comprehend the role Twitter plays in scholarly communication and the potential value of tweet counts as traces of broader engagement with scientific literature. In particular, the pattern of tweeting to the top ten most tweeted scientific dental articles and of tweeting by accounts is examined. The ideal that tweeting about scholarly articles represents curating and informing about state-of-the-art appears not to be realized in practice. We see much presumably human tweeting almost entirely mechanical and devoid of original thought, no evidence of conversation, tweets generated by monomania, duplicate tweeting from many accounts under centralized professional management and tweets generated by bots. Some accounts exemplify the ideal, but they represent less than 10% of tweets. Therefore, any conclusions drawn from twitter data is swamped by the mechanical nature of the bulk of tweeting behavior. In light of these results, we discuss the compatibility of Twitter with the research enterprise as well as some of the financial incentives behind these patterns.

Concepts: Psychology, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Social sciences, Impact factor, Scientific literature, Twitter


Automatically inferring user demographics from social media posts is useful for both social science research and a range of downstream applications in marketing and politics. We present the first extensive study where user behaviour on Twitter is used to build a predictive model of income. We apply non-linear methods for regression, i.e. Gaussian Processes, achieving strong correlation between predicted and actual user income. This allows us to shed light on the factors that characterise income on Twitter and analyse their interplay with user emotions and sentiment, perceived psycho-demographics and language use expressed through the topics of their posts. Our analysis uncovers correlations between different feature categories and income, some of which reflect common belief e.g. higher perceived education and intelligence indicates higher earnings, known differences e.g. gender and age differences, however, others show novel findings e.g. higher income users express more fear and anger, whereas lower income users express more of the time emotion and opinions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Prediction, Future, Sociology, Affect, Emotion, Twitter


Social media are used as main discussion channels by millions of individuals every day. The content individuals produce in daily social-media-based micro-communications, and the emotions therein expressed, may impact the emotional states of others. A recent experiment performed on Facebook hypothesized that emotions spread online, even in absence of non-verbal cues typical of in-person interactions, and that individuals are more likely to adopt positive or negative emotions if these are over-expressed in their social network. Experiments of this type, however, raise ethical concerns, as they require massive-scale content manipulation with unknown consequences for the individuals therein involved. Here, we study the dynamics of emotional contagion using a random sample of Twitter users, whose activity (and the stimuli they were exposed to) was observed during a week of September 2014. Rather than manipulating content, we devise a null model that discounts some confounding factors (including the effect of emotional contagion). We measure the emotional valence of content the users are exposed to before posting their own tweets. We determine that on average a negative post follows an over-exposure to 4.34% more negative content than baseline, while positive posts occur after an average over-exposure to 4.50% more positive contents. We highlight the presence of a linear relationship between the average emotional valence of the stimuli users are exposed to, and that of the responses they produce. We also identify two different classes of individuals: highly and scarcely susceptible to emotional contagion. Highly susceptible users are significantly less inclined to adopt negative emotions than the scarcely susceptible ones, but equally likely to adopt positive emotions. In general, the likelihood of adopting positive emotions is much greater than that of negative emotions.

Concepts: Experiment, Hypothesis, Empathy, Emotion, Null hypothesis, Inequality, Social network service, Twitter


Studies suggest that where people live, play, and work can influence health and well-being. However, the dearth of neighborhood data, especially data that is timely and consistent across geographies, hinders understanding of the effects of neighborhoods on health. Social media data represents a possible new data resource for neighborhood research.

Concepts: Nutrition, Sociology, Data, Weight loss, Web 2.0, Neighbourhood, Twitter, Neighborhoods


Previous research has shown that political leanings correlate with various psychological factors. While surveys and experiments provide a rich source of information for political psychology, data from social networks can offer more naturalistic and robust material for analysis. This research investigates psychological differences between individuals of different political orientations on a social networking platform, Twitter. Based on previous findings, we hypothesized that the language used by liberals emphasizes their perception of uniqueness, contains more swear words, more anxiety-related words and more feeling-related words than conservatives' language. Conversely, we predicted that the language of conservatives emphasizes group membership and contains more references to achievement and religion than liberals' language. We analysed Twitter timelines of 5,373 followers of three Twitter accounts of the American Democratic and 5,386 followers of three accounts of the Republican parties' Congressional Organizations. The results support most of the predictions and previous findings, confirming that Twitter behaviour offers valid insights to offline behaviour.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Prediction, Sociology, Centre-right, Social network service, Democratic Party, Twitter


It has recently become possible to study the dynamics of information diffusion in techno-social systems at scale, due to the emergence of online platforms, such as Twitter, with millions of users. One question that systematically recurs is whether information spreads according to simple or complex dynamics: does each exposure to a piece of information have an independent probability of a user adopting it (simple contagion), or does this probability depend instead on the number of sources of exposure, increasing above some threshold (complex contagion)? Most studies to date are observational and, therefore, unable to disentangle the effects of confounding factors such as social reinforcement, homophily, limited attention, or network community structure. Here we describe a novel controlled experiment that we performed on Twitter using ‘social bots’ deployed to carry out coordinated attempts at spreading information. We propose two Bayesian statistical models describing simple and complex contagion dynamics, and test the competing hypotheses. We provide experimental evidence that the complex contagion model describes the observed information diffusion behavior more accurately than simple contagion. Future applications of our results include more effective defenses against malicious propaganda campaigns on social media, improved marketing and advertisement strategies, and design of effective network intervention techniques.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Observation, Experiment, Philosophy of science, Hypothesis, Theory, Twitter