Feb 19, 2013

Activity on #Shahbag in Twitter: Part 5: Two significant groups emerged

Last time I collected the Tweets on Feb 18th. The death of a blogger activist shook the nation and we see many related posts on Twitter. The above image in NodeXL shows the network generated by reply, mention, and retweet relation, I did not include the follow relation here. Now I noticed several groups, and some people are central within their groups, and the connected people are not necessarily of similar opinion. Then what makes them connected? Why people with different opinion are in same group and people with similar opinion are in separate groups?  It's the reply and mention. After I read the tweets, it was clear that they are trying to make their points to the people of opposite opinion. So some people who are highly supporting the #Shahbag movement are trying to make the non-supporters realize their stand, on the other hand the opposing group was also communicating with the supporting group with their point of view. So, people with opposite opinion were communicating for argument.

As, this graph did not contain the follow relationship, we do not see strong ties or grouping. Because people usually follow like minded people, even if they mention or reply others who have opposite opinion. So this time I polled the network including both follower relation and reply/mention relation. And then I grouped them using clustering algorithm. After it was grouped including the follower relationship, we can see two major groups.
This graph considers both follower and reply/mention relationship, and therefore, the clustering was different from the previous one. I am only showing the follow relationship with orange color links. Now the people in the left group (136 people) are connected to each other and they mostly follow people within this book. Their tweets contain news, url about the protest, sometimes historical documents regarding war crimes, asking for punishment for the war-criminals. On the other hand, the right side group with 68 people, are opposing the movement, and arguing that it is led by the government. What was not obvious from the previous reply/mention graph, became apparent from the follow relationship graph: who belongs to what side of the movement.

But, hey we also see some orange lines running between two groups, that means there are people from one group following people from another, does this mean that people follow someone who has opposite political stand ? I wanted to identify who are the connectors of the both groups. I sorted the users (nodes) based on their betweenness centrality and later in-degree (number of links coming to them) in the graph, and the highest was AlJazeera (with maximum number of people connected to this account), which is a news agency. And people from both sides are following the AlJazeera account, thus making it a strong connector between two groups (the algorithm placed AlJazeera in the left group as it had more connection with AlJazeera).  Then I realized other news agencies might have similar roles: I found another news agency also had strong connection within both groups. Another account, though belonging to the supporter group, had lots of followers from the opposing group, that was something interesting to observe.

I selected AlJazeera and moved it near the border between both groups, and now we see how it also
dragged a lot of orange links with it (middle-top), and so, now in the middle of the border became thinner, we see fewer links there. We can say, AlJazeera is a bridge node.

But it was not the only account in the border line, I also found out some other accounts who have followers/followees from both groups. I dragged them near the border showing their connections with both sides.

Links from those accounts are highlighted in green color.

After that, I removed the biggest bridge node AlJazeera and see how the graph changes: compare with the second image in this post and see how the bridge nodes make lots of difference understanding the network dynamics. Some other bridge nodes are the users who are not taking any particular side and it is not clear what their opinion is regarding the movement. They seem neutral or less aggressive but they are also tweeting heavily about he event, hence became important bridge nodes. People from both groups follow them and mentioned/replied-to them.