Twitter On Verge Of Becoming Television
July 25, 2013

Twitter On Verge Of Becoming Television

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Researchers are predicting that Twitter will one day become more comparable to a television rather than a social network.

Twitter, a microblogging site with more than 500 million registered users, allows people to post their thoughts in 140-character-limited statements. Celebrities and athletes often use the site as a way to offer up a quick thought about current events to fans. Companies have also been using the microblogging service as another marketing outlet.

Researchers from Columbia Business School and the University of Pittsburgh examined about 2500 non-commercial Twitter users. They randomly selected some of those users and used synthetic accounts to bump up the number of their Twitter followers. The team noticed that as the selected group's follower numbers increased, so did their posting rate. However, once the group reached a moderately large number of followers, the posting rate declined significantly.

"Users began to realize it was harder to continue to attract more followers with their current strategy, so they slowed down," Columbia Business School Professor Olivier Toubia said in a statement. "When posting activity no longer leads to additional followers, people will view Twitter as a non-evolving, static structure, like TV."

The team predicts that Twitter posts by everyday people will slow down, while celebrities and commercial users will continue to post for financial gain. Toubia says in the future, we should get ready for a "TV-like Twitter."

"Twitter will become less of a communications vehicle and more of a content-delivery vehicle, much like TV. Peer-to-peer contact is likely to evolve to the next great thing, but with 500 million followers, Twitter isn't just going to disappear. It's just going to become a new way to follow celebrities, corporations, and the like," said Toubia.

Twitter has been used by scientists for numerous studies, one of which determined the happiest and saddest states in the US. Scientists at the University of Vermont used the microblogging site to analyze which of 373 study sites across the US had the happiest people. The researchers analyzed Tweets and found that Hawaii was the happiest state, while Louisiana was the saddest, followed by Mississippi.

In May, scientists reported findings based on Twitter about the use of ADHD medication at college campuses. Scientists determined that students in the northeastern and southern US were more likely to mention using Adderall during final exams each semester.