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How Twitter Shapes Public Opinion

500 million messages are tweeted daily on the popular online social networking site Twitter, but how do all of those 140-character memos shape the public's opinion? A group of Chinese researchers tackled the subject by gathering some 6 million tweets sent out over a 6-month period, organizing them by topics, such as “iPhone 4,” and analyzing them. They found that opinion evolves rapidly on the site, but levels off quickly to where one opinion remains dominant and is hard to change. This consensus is driven by the endorsements of large accounts on Twitter that tend to have the most influence, according to the study, which was published online today in Chaos.

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