Using Twitter to Map and Measure Online Cultural Diffusion

This project is using Twitter data to comprehensively uncover where Internet content is being created; whether the amount of content created in different places is changing over time; and how content moves across time and space in the Social Web.


Dr Mark Graham

Tel: +44 (0)1865 287203



Across the globe, daily economic, social and political activities increasingly revolve around the use of social content on the Internet. This user-generated content influences our understandings of, and interactions with, our social environment, and yet it is remarkable how little we know about the broader contexts in which much of that content is created. Using the world’s most popular micro-blogging platform, this project therefore proposes to comprehensively uncover: (1) where Internet content is being created; (2) whether the amount of content created in different places is changing over time; and (3) how content moves across time and space in the Social Web.

As an entry point into research on the social Web, this project will analyse data from the world’s most used, and arguably most influential, micro-blogging platform: Twitter. The platform might initially appear to just be a source of trivial content creation. However, it has recently been the source of significant change in political campaigning and protest, education, emergency response, legal proceedings, and cultural expression. The sheer scale and volume of content that passes through the platform allows it to provide valuable insights into real-time conversations happening throughout the world.

This project will develop and employ rigorous methods to map and measure how conversations on Twitter are taking place over time and space. Stage one will consist of creating a database of all geolocatable content on the platform in order to map the geographies of content creation (i.e. it asks: 'who is creating content?'). Stage two will move beyond straightforward mappings of content in order to examine the movement of concepts and ideas over time and space. The final, and most ambitious, stage of this project will explore the changing visibility of the world's twenty most widely spoken languages in the social Web.

By bringing together methods that are at the intersection of computer science and social science, this project aims to geographically and temporally map the movement of content and ideas in the social Web. It will examine where content is created, who is creating content, and how that content is layered over our material environment. Doing so will allow broad academic debates about inclusion, social participation, and cultural diffusion on the Internet to be addressed.


This project is suported by Oxford University Press's Fell Fund.



Project Lead



  • Malaysia's social media election

    2 May 2013 Al Jazeera

    In the run-up to the Malaysia's first 'social media' election, Al Jazeera quotes findings by Mark Graham that Malaysia is the sixth largest producer of information via Twitter in the world.

  • Sad if no ethics in social media

    28 February 2013 Straits Times

    In a speech at an event during Malaysia's Social Media Week, PM Datuk Seri Naji Razak referred to Mark Graham's work on Twitter usage as evidence that Malaysia stands out as a forward looking country.

  • Najib: Election 2013 first social media election

    27 February 2013 The Malaysian Insider

    The Malaysian Prime Minister has predicted that the forthcoming election will be Malaysia's first social media election.  He quoted research by Mark Graham which indicated that Malaysia and Brazil have very high levels of Twitter use.

  • Tweets help visualise information density of African cities

    18 February 2013 DW Akademie

    'Cities have become both digital and digitized' says Mark Graham whose work on geocoded tweets in African cities is answering questions on his research for Deutsche Welle Akademie.

  • Réseaux sociaux: les capitales africaines de Twitter, quartier par quartier

    15 February 2013 Jeune Afrique

    Francophone African news site reports on Mark Graham’s datamaps of tweets from key African cities and features every one of the maps, noting comparisons between predominantly French speaking and English speaking cities.

  • Tweets decide SAFC v Toon fans’ debate

    12 January 2013 Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette

    Regional newspaper, the Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette highlights the references to the football clubs of the North East in the Premier League Twitter map created by the OII team.

  • Chasing data shadows: Twitter map of football fans

    11 January 2013 University of Oxford

    A team from the OII has created an interactive Twitter map to find out where conversations about premier league football clubs originate.  It shows that there are fewer Manchester United fans in London and the south-east than is popularly assumed.

  • Oxford Internet Institute maps Premier League Twitter conversations in UK

    11 January 2013 Anchorfan

    Social Sport News site reports on the interactive map produced by Mark Graham and the OII team which maps twitter conversations about Premier League football clubs.

  • Twitter map finally reveals exactly where Manchester United fans live

    11 January 2013 Daily Telegraph

    The Daily Telegraph highlights the ‘fascinating’ map plotting Twitter conversations about Premier League Football clubs created by a team at the OII.

  • Now a Twitter map of football fans

    11 January 2013 India Blooms

    India based web-site reports the work of the OII team on the interactive Premier League Twitter map.

  • Most Man U fans do not come from the south, study shows

    11 January 2013 ITV

    ITV reports the work of the OII team on the interactive Premier League Twitter map.

  • Which Premier League teams are the most popular in search area? A Twitter interactive map

    11 January 2013 The Guardian

    The interactive map of geotagged Tweets mentioning Premier League teams or associated hashtags  created by the team at the OII features on the Data Store Show and Tell page of the Guardian.

  • Geography, Big Data, and Augmented Realities

    1 August 2012 Oxford Internet Institute

    New digital dimensions of place profoundly affect the ways that we interact with our urban environments. Dr Mark Graham leads a research project to interrogate these virtual layers of the city, asking what they are, where they are, and why they matter.

  • Map of the Day: The Geography of Klout

    17 July 2012 The Atlantic

    Coverage of an OII map of the geography of Klout, the online service that attempts to gauge social media influence. The map was produced as part of OII research on the geography of Twitter.

  • Where Tweets are born: the top countries on Twitter

    6 July 2012 Huffington Post (USA)

    Mark Graham’s research into the countries that use Twitter most shows that citizens in the US use Twitter more than any other country, followed by Brazil, Indonesia and the UK.

  • US tops Twitter Chart

    6 July 2012 CorpComms

    The on-line magazine for corporate communicators reports the research by Mark Graham and Monica Stephens into the origin of Twitter users. Mark's comments on the OII website about the usefulness of Twitter are quoted.

  • Tweeting all over the world

    5 July 2012 Daily Mail

    The Daily Mail reports details of OII research into the origin of tweets. Mark Graham is extensively quoted on how he and fellow researcher Monica Stephens went about collecting data and mapping the results.

  • Where the World's Tweets Come From, Vizualised.

    5 July 2012 Gizmodo

    Report of the research by Mark Graham and Monica Stephens into the origins of Tweets worldwide.

  • Church vs beer: using Twitter to map regional differences in US culture

    4 July 2012 Guardian Data-Store

    The Guardian Data Store featured one of Mark Graham's visualisations which used geolocated Tweets to gauge differences in culture across the US. The most tweets including 'beer' came from San Francisco and the most for 'church' from Dallas, Texas.

  • Where Do the World's Tweets Come From?

    29 June 2012 The

    The OII visualization 'A Geography of Twitter' is a good illustration of how wide is the Twitter world says Rebecca Rosen. Authors Mark Graham and Monica Stephens suggest Twitter might allow democratization of information sharing and production.


  • Mapping the EU Referendum on Twitter

    Mark Graham on 17 Jun 2016 15:19PM

    With the British Eu Referendum vote looming, we decided to take a look at what the sentiment for the remain vs. the leave vote looks like on Twitter. The map above takes all geotagged tweets that were sent in great Britain between April 15 and June 14 [...]

  • Hashtags and Haggis: Mapping the Scottish Referendum

    Mark Graham on 18 Sep 2014 07:15AM

    Reposted from our work over at Floatingsheep…The past weeks have been quite eventful in Scotland as a monumental election unfolds. Everyone wants to know, which way will the Scots vote? While we here at Floatingsheep certainly don’t have [...]

  • New paper: Where in the World are You? Geolocation and Language Identification in Twitter

    Mark Graham on 12 Jun 2013 07:31AM

    Scott Hale, Devin Gaffney and I have a forthcoming paper in The Professional Geographer on the geography of Twitter.The abstract is below, and you can download the pre-publication version from the link at the end of this post.AbstractThe movements of [...]

  • Mapping Twitter in Francophone Africa

    Mark Graham on 15 Feb 2013 14:15PM

    There was a lot of interest in the series of eleven maps of tweets in African cities that I posted yesterday. So, here are ten more from Francophone Africa: Algiers, Bamako, Abidjan, Nouakchott, Kinshasa, Ougadougou, Libreville, Dakar, Conkary, and [...]

  • Mapping Twitter in African cities

    Mark Graham on 13 Feb 2013 13:27PM

    Building on the last post (a map of Tweets in Nairobi), I’d like to show a few more visualisations of information densities in other African cities.Below, you can find maps of all geocoded tweets published in November 2012 in Accra, Cairo, Dar es [...]

  • Where do tweets in Nairobi come from?

    Mark Graham on 12 Feb 2013 21:30PM

    Earlier I posted a map of tweets about the Kenyan presidential debate that showed a distinct geography of information about the event. Doing so made me wonder about the broader patterns of information production in Nairobi through Twitter.So (with the [...]

  • Mapping tweets about the Kenyan presidential debate

    Mark Graham on 12 Feb 2013 16:47PM

    Yesterday saw the first ever televised presidential debate in Kenya. The debate was not only carried across a range of tv and radio stations, but was also live-streamed on YouTube and was actively discussed on Twitter under the #KeDebate13 and #KeDebate [...]

  • Situating Neogeography: Special Issue of Environment and Planning A

    Mark Graham on 28 Jan 2013 20:02PM

    The special issue of Environment and Planning A on neogeography that I edited with Matthew Wilson is now out an available to download. It will undoubtedly be a useful collection for anyone interested in thinking about the coming-togethers of information, [...]

  • big broad data: thirty million tweets visualised

    Mark Graham on 7 Nov 2012 10:32AM

    In order to create our recent election tweets map, we downloaded all geocoded tweets published from the United States in October: about thirty million messages!In addition to extracting content containing election-related terms, I also wanted to see what [...]

  • Obama wins the election! (on Twitter)

    Mark Graham on 5 Nov 2012 19:48PM

    Can Twitter predict the outcome of the US election tomorrow? If our results are anything to go by then Barack Obama will be reelected. The data presented below are the result of some research that Adham Tamer, Ning Wang, Scott Hale and I (Mark Graham) [...]

  • data shadows of a hurricane

    Mark Graham on 31 Oct 2012 07:02AM

    My colleagues Adham Tamer, Ning Wang, Scott Hale and I have been collecting tweets containing the terms “flood” and “flooding” in order to examine how twitter usage in the context of Hurricane Sandy might reflect lived experiences. [...]

  • America's most influential cities: the urban geography of klout scores

    Mark Graham on 9 Oct 2012 13:37PM

    My colleague Devin Gaffney and I decided to dig deeper into the geography of Klout and examine the geography of some of the largest cities in the US. We found some very interesting patterns and large differences in the average influence of users in [...]

  • the geography of klout scores - or why are the French so influential?

    Mark Graham on 17 Jul 2012 08:19AM

    Most Twitter users have heard of Klout scores. These scores which fall between 0 and 100 supposedly measure influence (higher scores indicating that a person is more influential). This isn't to say that such quantification of a person's influence based on [...]

  • Where Do the World's Tweets Come From?

    Mark Graham on 3 Jul 2012 09:36AM

    The Atlantic has just published a piece 'Where Do the World's Tweets Come From?' featuring a graphic that I made with Monica Stephens.You can read more about our methods and interpretation at the OII's Vis Site, and have a look at some of the earlier [...]

  • Mapping #kony2012 on Twitter (part 2)

    Mark Graham on 30 Apr 2012 13:00PM

    Following on from my last post about mapping #kony2012 on Twitter, I also wanted to offer up a map that shows the proportion of tweets from each country that made reference to the viral video or the LRA leader (or both). We've already seen that most [...]

  • Where do tweets come from? (part 2)

    Mark Graham on 16 Apr 2012 14:15PM

    I realise that the graph in my last post about the geography of tweets is hard to read, so am uploading the chart below so that you can get a better sense of where content in Twitter comes from.  It shows us that over half of the world's content [...]

  • Where do tweets come from?

    Mark Graham on 13 Apr 2012 11:11AM

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted a map of all georeferenced tweets mentioning the #kony video. The patterns were interesting, but not entirely unexpected.A more interesting question though, would be to see what percentage of all tweets from each country [...]

  • Mapping #kony2012 on Twitter

    Mark Graham on 31 Mar 2012 11:58AM

    A LOT has been said about the recent Kony 2012 video. There have been critiques, critiques of critiques, critiques of critiques of critiques.Interestingly, there were many claims that video was one of the most successful viral campaigns in the history of [...]

  • A critique of the Economist's "#AfricaTweets" story

    Mark Graham on 6 Feb 2012 22:08PM

    The latest edition of the Economist contains an article titled “#AfricaTweets.” The piece contains a striking map that visualizes the “number of tweets” per country in the “top 20 African countries.”The only problem is that the article doesn’t do what it [...]

  • Hiring part-time research assistant to collect and analyse Twitter data

    Mark Graham on 9 Sep 2011 08:38AM

    Applications are invited from for a part-time Research Assistant associated with the newly-funded project supported by a John Fell Fund grant: Using the Social Web to Map and Measure Online Cultural Diffusion. Using data collected from Twitter, the [...]