The Times They Are Rarely A-Changin'
Circadian Regularities in Social Media Use
Keywords:social media, ideological conditionality, biorhythms
This paper uses geolocated Twitter histories from approximately 25,000 individuals in 6 different time zones and 3 different countries to construct a proper time-zone dependent hourly baseline for social media activity studies. We establish that, across multiple regions and time periods, interaction with social media is strongly conditioned by traditional bio-rhythmic or “Circadian” patterns, and that in the United States, this pattern is itself further conditioned by the ideological bent of the user. Using a time series of these histories around the 2016 US Presidential election, we show that external events of great significance can disrupt traditional social media activity patterns, and that this disruption can be significant (in some cases doubling the amplitude and shifting the phase of activity up to an hour). We find that the disruption of use patterns can last an extended period of time, and in many cases, aspects of this disruption would not be detected without a circadian baseline.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Sean Kates, Joshua Tucker, Jonathan Nagler, Richard Bonneau
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.