RT to Win! Predicting Message Propagation in Twitter
Twitter is a very popular way for people to share information on a bewildering multitude of topics. Tweets are propagated using a variety of channels: by following users or lists, by searching or by retweeting. Of these vectors, retweeting is arguably the most effective, as it can potentially reach the most people, given its viral nature. A key task is predicting if a tweet will be retweeted, and solving this problem furthers our understanding of message propagation within large user communities. We carry out a human experiment on the task of deciding whether a tweet will be retweeted which shows that the task is possible, as human performance levels are much above chance. Using a machine learning approach based on the passive-aggressive algorithm, we are able to automatically predict retweets as well as humans. Analyzing the learned model, we find that performance is dominated by social features, but that tweet features add a substantial boost.