Fascinating #Gamergate Twitter Breakdown

Andy Baio, a long time Twitter user and my kind of math geek, wrote a Python script to capture 72 hours of tweets using the #gamergate and #notyourshield hashtags. His findings are really interesting. He was providing the raw data for others to play with, but unfortunately Twitter sent him a cease and desist.

Some highlights:

38,630 accounts created 316,669 tweets. Only 17,410 created 99,285 original (not re-tweeted) tweets. This would seem to contradict the claim that Gamergate makes up a "majority" of gamers that gets tossed around frequently by supporters - even if you were to assume the majority of those accounts were pro-Gamergate and none are sockpuppets,~40,000 people is a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the 11.21 million people who bought Grand Theft Auto V or the 28.65 million who bought New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Even if you were to be generous and say that only 1% of Gamergate was active on Twitter during those three days, the majority of ~400,000 still statistically insignificant compared to the ~18 million people who bought the latest Call of Duty game.

Pro-gamergate accounts post more original tweets, but the top ten most retweeted tweets were all anti-gamergate. This may be because anti-gamergate posters are more afraid of doxxing or inviting sea lioning.

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The Newsweek article incorrectly labeled the majority of tweets they monitored as neutral. Brandwatch, the company they used for this analysis, replied to the author that this was intended to be "undetermined". Baio's own analysis of tweets directed to Sarkeesian, Wu, and Quinn places the ratio at 75% negative, 15% positive, and 10% neutral or undetermined.

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25% of pro-Gamergate accounts were created within the last two months.

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Gamergaters on Twitter were quick to defend this as people being "driven out" of other forums or signing up for Twitter because that's where the debate is taking place. However, when compared to another recent hashtag, #kashmirfloods, this behavior is not seen:

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It's hard not to conclude that there isn't sockpuppetry and astroturfing going on given early campaigns to create just such accounts to make up #notyourshield. It should be noted, however, that this is circumstantial evidence.

His analysis ends with the beautiful graph seen up top, created by connecting all the Twitter accounts engaged in "battle." He concludes thus:

This network visualization is as good a metaphor as any for #Gamergate. Two massive, impenetrable hairballs of people that want little to do with one another, only listening to their side and firing volleys across the chasm.

Is it over yet?

This has done incalculable damage to the already precarious ground video games had gained as a medium that was taken seriously. It has driven a rift between people who should be sharing joy in our hobby. It has driven people from their homes.

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We all wish it was over.

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