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How to Find the Right Twitter User in a Crisis

By New Scientist

March 25, 2013

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Arizona State University researchers have developed a way to find people on Twitter who are tweeting useful information during a crisis.

The team analyzed nearly 13 million tweets from several Middle East countries during the Arab Spring in 2011, dividing the tweeters based on their location and what they talked about, with a preference for users closest to breaking news events. The researchers ran an automatic process to discover the main topics of the tweets, then went through them manually to uncover the most relevant to the uprising.

People looking to hone their Twitter feed will want to follow tweets about relevant topics from users who are near the action. The most useful tweeters will likely have a smaller number of followers and little influence outside the crisis, writes lead researcher Shamanth Kumar in a paper the researchers will present at the upcoming ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media in Paris.

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