Predicting what topics will trend on Twitter

Twitter’s home page features a regularly updated list of topics that are “trending,” meaning that tweets about them have suddenly exploded in volume. A position on the list is highly coveted as a source of free publicity, but the selection of topics is automatic, based on a proprietary algorithm that factors in both the number of tweets and recent increases in that number.

At the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Information and Decision in Social Networks at MIT in November, Associate Professor Devavrat Shah and his student Stanislav Nikolov will present a new algorithm that can, with 95 percent accuracy, predict which topics will trend an average of an hour and a half before Twitter’s algorithm puts them on the list — and sometimes as much as four or five hours before.

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MIT News

Researchers:

Devavrat Shah, MIT

Stanislav Nikolov, MIT