There were temporal trends too. “The saddest was Hunter College High School,” says Bar-Yam. “It turns out that we collected data just after they came back from vacation.”
Alan Mislove of Northeastern University in Boston says that using Twitter for such analysis has positives and negatives.
On one hand, it gives researchers access to a large number of users and a diversity of topics. On the other, the analysis can be confounded because users may be biased, or have multiple accounts, or be using corporate accounts. “There is an on-going debate about how to use sites like Twitter to measure certain trends,” says Mislove.