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What's the prevailing opinion on social media? Look at the flocks, says researcher -- ScienceDaily

Murmuration identifies meaningful groups of social media actors based on the "who-follows-whom" relationship. The actors attract like-minded followers to form "flocks," which serve as the units of analysis. As opinions form and shift in response to external events, the flocks' unfolding opinions move like the fluid murmuration of airborne starlings. The framework and the findings from an analysis of social network structure and opinion expression from over 193,000 Twitter accounts, which followed more than 1.3 million other accounts, suggest that flock membership can predict opinion and that the murmuration framework reveals distinct patterns of opinion intensity. The researchers studied Twitter because of the ability to see who is following whom, information that is not publicly accessible on other platforms. The results, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, further support the echo chamber tendencies prevalent on social media, while adding important nuance to existing knowledge. "By identifying different flocks and examining the intensity, temporal pattern and content of their expression, we can gain deeper insights far beyond where liberals and conservatives stand on a certain issue," says Zhang, an expert in social media and political communication. "These flocks are segments of the population, defined not by demographic variables of questionable salience, like white women aged 18-29, but by their online connections and response to events.