As Twitter’s message traffic has grown explosively, so has the scientific appetite for the insights the data can yield. Dozens of new scholarly studies over the past 18 months by computer-network analysts and sociologists have plumbed the public torrents of data made available by Twitter through special links with the company’s computer servers. This research has harnessed the service to monitor political activity and employee morale, track outbreaks of flu and food poisoning, map fluctuations in moods around the world, predict box-office receipts for new movies, and get a jump on changes in the stock market. When the magnitude 8.8 Chilean earthquake hit last year, researchers found that on Twitter the truth often won out over misinformation. “When a rumor is true, it spreads faster,” said computer analyst Barbara Poblete at the University of Chile in Santiago.
That’s a big claim. Is there more than one data point to support it?