Every tweet has (at minimum) three numerical data points associated with it:
- the number of retweets
- the number of replies
- and the number of favorites it has received.
Several days ago I looked at a Donald Trump tweet and questioned if there were any insight to be gained from examining the ratios between those three numbers. My hypothesis was that those ratios could allow me to classify the public’s response to that tweet. For example:
- a tweet that has a higher ratio of replies to favorites was perceived as more controversial and elicited more backlash.
- a tweet with a higher ratio of likes to retweets was perceived as agreeable but insensitive enough that people might not want to share it.
Unfortunately Twitter’s API doesn’t provide the number of replies to a tweet, but here are just some findings after an hour playing in a Python notebook.
Each of Trump’s 200 most recent tweets has been plotted on the graph below. Tweets posted from an iOS device are shown in red, while those from an Android device are shown in blue. It has been suggested that iOS tweets are strictly his staff, while Android tweets are strictly Trump’s personal thoughts. The lower popularity of iOS tweets could support that notion.
You can see the ratio between favorites and retweets is approximately 5:1, but what I was interested to see is which tweets strayed the furthest from the line of best fit. Here are snippets of the 7 tweets with highest ratio of favorites to retweets.
THANK YOU! #JointSession #MAGA??\nhttps://t.co/RDO6Jt2pip Join me live at 9:00 P.M. \n#JointAddress http... I will be interviewed on @foxandfriends at 6:0... Big dinner with Governors tonight at White Hou... Going to CPAC!
These are certainly not dividing or controversial statements.
Let’s look at the 7 tweets with the fewest favorites per retweet.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my ph... Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wi... I hereby demand a second investigation, after ... We should start an immediate investigation int... Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a polit... RT @Scavino45: LIVE Joint Statement by Preside... Iran is playing with fire - they don't appreci...
These are clearly more aggressive messages.
— Alex Greene (@alexg473) March 5, 2017