Hashtags that Matter: Measuring the propagation of Tweets in the Dilma Crisis


This research note describes a method to rank and map the propagation of hashtags and other edge traits in complex social networks. We take advantage of the known properties of the Generalized Friendship Paradox to measure the propagation rate of edge attributes (hashtags) in Twitter. We proceed to map the regions of political networks that are activated by different hashtags. We exemplify our strategy analyzing a large network in Brazil during the second half of 2015, the# Dilma mobilizations. Results show that government messages spread through a dense community of pro-government users that actively retweeted the content of a small set of politicians (network authorities). Meanwhile, opposition messages spread using a distributed network strategy, with very active network hubs coordinating their political messages. Acknowledgments: We thank Ed Summers for his support in setting up the data collection environment. Twitter data was collected using twarc (Summers 2015) on Twitter’s forward API stream. We thank Luigi Curini and the participants of the political science workshop at the University of Milan as well as the participants of the Instituto de Cálculo, UBA-Argentina for comments and suggestions. The Graduate School at the University of Maryland and GVPT provided support for this research.