Uncovering spatiotemporal characteristics of human online behaviors during extreme events

Chao Gao, Jiming LIU

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In response to an extreme event, individuals on social media demonstrate interesting behaviors depending on their backgrounds. By making use of the large-scale datasets of posts and search queries collected from Twitter and GoogleTrends, we first identify the distinct categories of human collective online concerns and durations based on the distributions of solo tweets and new incremental tweets about events. Such a characterization enables us to gain a better understanding of dynamic changes in human behaviors corresponding to different types of events. Next, we observe the heterogeneity of individual responses to events through measuring the fraction of event-related tweets relative to the tweets released by an individual, and thus empirically confirm the heterogeneity assumption as adopted in the meta-population models for characterizing collective responses to events. Finally, based on the correlations of information entropy in different regions, we show that the observed distinct responses may be caused by their different speeds in information propagation. In addition, based on the detrended fluctuation analysis, we find that there exists a self-similar evolution process for the collective responses within a region. These findings have provided a detailed account for the nature of distinct human behaviors on social media in presence of extreme events.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0138673
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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