Margaret Thatcher ‘death tweets’ to be focus of Manchester study exploring how Twitter images go viral

‘Death tweets’ posted in the days following Margaret Thatcher passing will be the focus of a Manchester university study of how images are shared on Twitter.

Jim Aulich and Dr Simon Faulkner are part of the Manchester Metropolitan University research project that will investigate which pictures become popular, who shares them and how quickly they spread.

The research team have already collected nearly 150,000 tweets and downloaded almost 17,000 individual images.

Dr Faulkner, Senior Lecturer in Art History, said: “This experience will be invaluable to a team of researchers concerned with the in-depth analysis of social media images and also with how the research might be creatively presented.”

The duo are working with colleagues from the University of Sheffield, Warwick University, Pulsar and the University of Wolverhampton on the Economic and Social Research Council-funded project.

The aim is to build a free research tool for the academic community to allow researchers to capture visual data including who shares popular images, how quickly they spread, how they’re tagged, and possibly location data.

Samantha McGregor, Senior Policy Manager, of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) said: “We are committed to fostering and promoting greater transformative innovation and risk in the research that we support.

“This award particularly highlights the importance of Big Data, and specifically social media data, in achieving transformative social science, as well as their relevance to our broader research portfolio.”

More information on the research can be found here.

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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