Are Negative Twitter Messages Contagious?

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Does a negative post on Twitter have infectious germs powerful enough to influence the behavior of tweeters? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

A new report from the American Council on Science and Health claims negative Twitter messages are contagious. In this case, researchers at Penn State University collected tweets with vaccination-related keywords during the 2009 H1N1 scare, determining negative tweets about children’s vaccines are more likely to be spread than positive ones. Scientists tracked those tweets, then ran results through an algorithm categorizing the messages as positive, negative or neutral. Social media influence was also part of the formula, with number following and sentiment analyzed. The researchers studied a total of 318,379 tweets expressing positive, negative or neutral sentiments about H1N1, the so-called swine flu.

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