Why do People Retweet? Anti-Homophily Wins the Day! [pdf]
In the Fifth International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), 2011.

Sofus A. Macskassy and Matthew Michelson

Abstract

Twitter and other microblogs have rapidly become a significant means by which people communicate with the world and each other in near realtime. There has been a large number of studies surrounding these social media, focusing on areas such as information spread, various centrality measures, topic detection and more. However, one area which has not received much attention is trying to better understand what information is being spread and why it is being spread. This work looks to get a better understanding of what makes people spread information in tweets or microblogs through the use of retweeting. Several retweet behavior models are presented and evaluated on a Twitter data set consisting of over 768,000 tweets gathered from monitoring over 30,000 users for a period of one month. We evaluate the proposed models against each user and show how people use different retweet behavior models. For example, we find that although users in the majority of cases do not retweet information on topics that they themselves Tweet about as or from people who are ``like them'' (hence anti-homophily), we do find that models which do take homophily, or similarity, into account fits the observed retweet behaviors much better than other more general models which do not take this into account. We further find that, not surprisingly, people's retweeting behavior is better explained through multiple different models rather than one model.