What’s the Twettiquette?

At Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

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The top Twitterers — Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Barack Obama — have millions of followers. They also, graciously, follow hundreds of thousands right back. Not everyone is so kind. Different people have different strategies, of course. Conan O’Brien famously follows just one lucky soul. And Freakonomics followed no one on Twitter, until recently.#jerks

In the latest Freakonomics Radio Marketplace segment, Kai Ryssdal talks with Stephen Dubner about Twitter taboos. Is it rude to follow no one if you’re followed? They’ll hear from Joe Fernandez, the CEO of a company called Klout, which that analyzes Twitter data; and Duncan Watts, a research scientist at Yahoo! and co-author of a recent paper called “Who Says What to Whom on Twitter.” Watts, author of Six Degrees, also has a new book out this month: Everything is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer.

Here’s where to find Marketplace on the radio where you live.


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  1. @imoney319 says:

    Follow Me & my bid is nothing me cause I don’t even know what my tweets are worth….I assume nothing!

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  2. cjc says:

    After listening to the podcast, it appears that you made your assumptions about reciprocity and popularity based on the number of followers of the top 1,000 Twitter users. In a total Twitter population approaching 200,000,000 it’s impossible to make any sort of generalizations about Twitter as a communication mechanism or a social network based on such a poor sampling methodology. It would basically be like describing the entire United States population based solely on the characteristics of U.S. billionaires. In the end, it would have been a much better story, and I assume you would have had much different findings, with a random sample of 1,000 Twitter users.

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  3. x_crystal says:

    This is ridiculous. There is no twettiquette. You follow whomever you would like to follow and keep track of and those that follow you are doing so because they want to know what you are up to. Either that or they’re a stalker. However, if someone follows you, you do not have to follow them back. In fact, to keep track of who’s following you, there is a filter which allows you to accept followers.

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  4. @MagicBasketball says:

    It would have been nice if they went a lot deeper than the top celebrities. I am just a mere blogger but I choose to not follow everyone that follows me because I truly gain valuable information from the people I follow. The podcast ignored that entire side of Twitter and honestly, that is the side that has been so priceless to me. Twitter has at certain times given me a lot of misinformation, but overall the good has far outweighed the bad.

    A lowly sports blog with 550 followers and following ~300.

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