Geography of Tweets

Elizabeth Borneman


We don’t think of the internet as having boundaries or borders, a nationality or a home.  Social media platforms like Twitter have connected the world in 140 characters or less; people can talk, communicate, message, and get to know one another with little effort.

Despite the global nature of social media and the Internet in general, most people aren’t actually growing more geographically aware. In an analysis of ‘big data’ from Twitter, people who lived in larger cities around the world were more likely to mention other large cities or international locations. People tweeting from smaller or medium-sized cities were more focused on their own state or localities. However, people from around the world were still more likely to talk about their own local area more often than not.

Geographical awareness of people was improved if they lived in larger urban areas, possibly because of the mix of cultures and movement in and out of the city that can occur in cities around the world. Cities that are job or technology hubs can attract employees from around the world, thus influencing the kinds of things that are discussed on Twitter regarding the state of the world.

Although the internet can and does connect people, we still tend to interact and talk about what is going on more geographically close to us. The ‘death of distance,’ it was found, still applies.

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More: Tweeting Far and Wide: Location, location, location still matters in a world made smaller by the Internet and social media – University of California, Santa Barbara

Han, S. Y., Tsou, M. H., & Clarke, K. C. (2015). Do Global Cities Enable Global Views? Using Twitter to Quantify the Level of Geographical Awareness of US Cities. PloS one10(7).


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About the author
Elizabeth Borneman
My name is Elizabeth Borneman and I am a freelance writer, reader, and coffee drinker. I live on a small island in Alaska, which gives me plenty of time to fish, hike, kayak, and be inspired by nature. I enjoy writing about the natural world and find lots of ways to flex my creative muscles on the beach, in the forest, or down at the local coffee shop.