The Tweets They Are a-Changin’: Evolution of Twitter Users and Behavior
Keywords:Twitter Evolution, User Demographics, Tweeting Behavior
The microblogging site Twitter is now one of the most popular Web destinations. Due to the relative ease of data access, there has been significant research based on Twitter data, ranging from measuring the spread of ideas through society to predicting the behavior of real-world phenomena such as the stock market. Unfortunately, relatively little work has studied the changes in the Twitter ecosystem itself; most research that uses Twitter data is typically based on a small time-window of data, generally ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Twitter is known to have evolved significantly since its founding, and it remains unclear whether prior results still hold, and whether the (often implicit) assumptions of proposed systems are still valid.
In this paper, we take a first step towards answering these question by focusing on the evolution of Twitter's users and their behavior. Using a set of over 37 billion tweets spanning over seven years, we quantify how the users, their behavior, and the site as a whole have evolved. We observe and quantify a number of trends including the spread of Twitter across the globe, the rise of spam and malicious behavior, the rapid adoption of tweeting conventions, and the shift from desktop to mobile usage. Our results can be used to interpret and calibrate previous Twitter work, as well as to make future projections of the site as a whole.