The Times They Are Rarely A-Changin'

Circadian Regularities in Social Media Use

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DOI:

https://doi.org/10.51685/jqd.2021.017

Keywords:

social media, ideological conditionality, biorhythms

Abstract

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.

Author Biographies

Sean Kates, University of Pennsylvania

Associate Director of Programs in Data Analytics 

Joshua Tucker, New York University

Professor of Politics, Co-Director NYU Center for Social Media and Politics, Director NYU Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia

Jonathan Nagler, New York University

Professor of Politics, Co-Director NYU Center for Social Media and Politics

Richard Bonneau, New York University

Professor of Biology and Computer Science, Co-Director NYU Center for Social Media and Politics

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Published

2021-04-26

How to Cite

Kates, S. ., Tucker, J., Nagler, J., & Bonneau, R. (2021). The Times They Are Rarely A-Changin’: Circadian Regularities in Social Media Use. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media, 1. https://doi.org/10.51685/jqd.2021.017

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