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Twitterfied and Twitter Speak, Studying Twitter

Get ready to be Twitterfied, as they say in Twitter speak, or “impressed, amazed and stupefied” in regular English language, as studying Twitter has become priority number one not just for trend spotting but for public safety as well.

Studying Twitter and the Twittershpere

Anatomy of a Tweet

Diagram from communitymediaworkship.org


Developing a lie detector for social media apps like Twitter and first ever in-depth linguistic study of global word use on Twitter are taking shape as you read this, in Twitter speak this is the Twitter-versal way to predict trends and understand how they spread.

There is no denying that Twitter has become a cultural and generational icon, especially after that Ellen Twitter Pic that ended up breaking Twitter.

A lie spread via social media can have a minor impact or major, and in the case of the latter the spreading of wrong information could result in another “War of the Worlds” catastrophe, making a lie detector for social media not just useful but necessary.

The lie detector for social media was announced by the University of Sheffield as an EU Project which will “allow journalists, governments, emergency services and health agencies” as well as private sector companies respond appropriately to social media reports or “claims”.

According to their plan, rumors, or lies can be divided into four categories; controversy, misinformation, disinformation and speculation.

After categorically sorting these types of lies and looking at the originating source lies can be more quickly identified and prevented from traveling any further. The researchers note that this information will also help shut down Twitter accounts that have been created solely for the purpose of spreading information, true or false.

The EU funded project is predicted to take three years and has been dubbed “Pheme” by the University of Sheffield and will be conducted in collaboration with five universities around the globe and four international private companies.


Dresden, Fama (Pheme)
Photo By Brunswyk CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The chosen name “Pheme” for the project is a dedication to the meddling Greek mythological goddess who snooped into other people private affairs and then spread the information she discovered to everyone possible. According to Wikipedia, the wrath of Pheme is her spread of scandalous rumors, her winged statue is often adorned at the top of chapels holding or blowing a trumpet.

Aston University of the UK has undertaken the immense project of analyzing more than 1 billion tweets sent over a 1 year period to try to “decode” or even predict trends by region or geography. In partnership with the University of South Carolina they will study the migration of words and people through Twitter, the first study of its kind.

“In addition to charting the internal movements of words in the UK and US, we hope to look at how words spread across the Atlantic, explains Dr. Jack Grieve of Aston University.

Twitter is an ideal medium for lexicologists and linguists since it contains so much consolidated “big data”, or complex data for social research.

Since Twitter allows a maximum of 140 characters abbreviations are very popular (as with texting) but can be confusing to those who are new to the social media arena.  For those that need a little help translating the abbreviated terminology a Twitter Dictionary is helpful for novices or “newbies”, “noobs” or “Neweeters”.




Feature image from NYC Prolwer, “FTC Paid Endorsement Tweets”.


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