Website ranks most influential tweeters

Thu Sep 23, 2010 1:27pm EDT
 
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actor Ashton Kutcher has more than 5 million and when singer John Mayer closed his account his devotees numbered 3.7 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 microblogging 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 dating 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, www.pulseofthetweeters.com, resulted from Narayanan's thesis project.   Continued...

 
<p>Ashton Kutcher participates in a panel discussion titled "Democracy and Voice: Technology For Citizen Empowerment and Human Rights," at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Chip East</p>