Open Conference Systems, Catac 2016

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EXPRESSING FEELINGS ON TWITTER AND NETWORK SIZE
Yeslam Al-Saggaf, Sonja Utz, Ruoyun Lin

Last modified: 2016-06-11

Abstract


Do people who express negative feelings (loneliness, sadness) on Twitter gain or lose online contacts? To answer this question, we tracked the number of followers and followees of people who tweeted about loneliness or sadness twice; once when they expressed the negative feeling and a second time five months later. We compared the networks of those users with the networks of others who either simply retweeted tweets about loneliness/sadness or (re)tweeted about the corresponding positive feelings. Using these two comparison groups allows us to examine whether differences in network size are driven by genuinely expressing (vs. retweeting) a negative emotion. People expressing loneliness in their tweets, as well as people expressing sadness in their tweets had smaller networks than people expressing feeling loved or happy. This effect held only for the original tweets, not retweets, and was – in case of sad/happy – stronger for the followees than the followers. Moreover, we found that people expressing loneliness also had smaller friends’ networks five months later than the people expressing feeling loved, and that the networks of the people expressing sadness became even smaller during the following five months.

Keywords


Negative emotions, Loneliness, Sadness, Retweeting, Number of followers and friends

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