Building a Spatial Social Network of Public Discourse in Social Media (Twitter)

Authors: Jaehee Park*, San Diego State University
Topics: Cyberinfrastructure, Social Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: social media, social network, spatial social network, public discourse
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 1, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Different cities have different cultures, vibes, political views, history, and demographic composition. These factors will affect public opinions and discourse regarding various political events or social movements in different cities. Given that people often express their perspectives and opinions based on various social media channels or messages, it is important to identify and locate where these messages come from. Social media has been the venue of public discourse surrounding a certain social issue. This study investigates public discourse about racial and political issues on social media in a geospatial context and using a spatial social network. By studying two case examples, the Charlottesville attack on Aug. 2017 and the Tax reform issue on Nov. 2017, we analyzed Twitter’s mention and retweet networks and constructed geographically-embedded social network analysis (SNA). While a spatial social network replies on the real-world coordinate systems to construct their nodes (cities), a spatial social network can be used to visualize the connection between people’s communications and the actual events in the real world. One of the research challenges is how to create a location of sender-recipient pairs. In this study, we parsed the recipient’s location information from their user profile and aggregated to represent a city level to construct a spatial social network. Therefore, a spatial social network reveals information flows between cities. The results of this study demonstrate different communities in the social network and a relationship between online social networks and geographic location in the physical world.

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