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By Kimberly Winston
A new study of Twitter finds that self-identified religious users are more likely to tweet to members of their own faith than to members of a different one. The study examined people whose Twitter profiles identified them as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist.
And while adherents of all six groups studied tweet frequently, atheists — among the smallest populations in the U.S. — are the most prolific.
“On average, we can say the atheists have more friends, more followers, and they tweet more,” said Lu Chen, a doctoral candidate at the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University who co-authored the study with Ingmar Weber of the Qatar Computing Research Institute and Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn of Rutgers University-Camden. They will present their findings in November at the sixth annual International Conference on Social Informatics.
The study is also remarkable for its size — researchers combed through more than 96 million tweets of over 250,000 Twitter users. They also studied the users’ friends — the people they follow on Twitter — and the users’ own followers. Subjects were Twitter users who self-identified as religious or atheist in their profiles, and only those who said they lived in the U.S.; researchers compared them to a “baseline” group of Twitter users who expressed no religious identification.
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