On Quantifying Diffusion of Health Information on Twitter

Creative Commons License

Bakal G., Kavuluru R.

4th IEEE EMBS International Conference on Biomedical and Health Informatics (BHI), Florida, United States Of America, 16 - 19 February 2017, pp.485-488 identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume:
  • Doi Number: 10.1109/bhi.2017.7897311
  • City: Florida
  • Country: United States Of America
  • Page Numbers: pp.485-488
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: No


With the increasing use of digital technologies, online social networks are emerging as major means of communication. Recently, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are also being used by consumers, care providers (physicians, hospitals), and government agencies to share health related information. The asymmetric user network and the short message size have made Twitter particularly popular for propagating health related content on the Web. Besides tweeting on their own, users can choose to retweet particular tweets from other users (even if they do not follow them on Twitter.) Thus, a tweet can diffuse through the Twitter network via the follower-friend connections. In this paper, we report results of a pilot study we conducted to quantitatively assess how health related tweets diffuse in the directed followerfriend Twitter graph through the retweeting activity. Our effort includes (1). development of a retweet collection and Twitter retweet graph formation framework and (2). a preliminary analysis of retweet graphs and associated diffusion metrics for health tweets. Given the ambiguous nature (due to polysemy and sarcasm) of health relatedness of tweets collected with keyword based matches, our initial study is limited to approximate to 200 health related tweets (which were manually verified to be on health topics) each with at least 25 retweets. To our knowledge, this is first attempt to study health information diffusion on Twitter through retweet graph analysis.