Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope

9 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2008

Date Written: December 5, 2008


Scholars, advertisers and political activists see massive online social networks as a representation of social interactions that can be used to study the propagation of ideas, social bond dynamics and viral marketing, among others. But the linked structures of social networks do not reveal actual interactions among people. Scarcity of attention and the daily rythms of life and work makes people default to interacting with those few that matter and that reciprocate their attention. A study of social interactions within Twitter reveals that the driver of usage is a sparse and hidden network of connections underlying the "declared" set of friends and followers.

Keywords: social networks, attention economy, twitter

JEL Classification: D70, L15, M30

Suggested Citation

Huberman, Bernardo A. and Romero, Daniel M. and Wu, Fang, Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope (December 5, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Bernardo A. Huberman (Contact Author)

CableLabs ( email )

400 W California Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
United States

Daniel M. Romero

Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, Bristol ( email )

United Kingdom

Fang Wu

HP Labs ( email )

Palo Alto, CA 94304
United States

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