If you have a Twitter account, there’s a very good chance that you are one of the millions of tiny dots on this chart.
That’s because Rob Weir has been watching Twitter’s publicly available data since 2009, patiently aggregating it so he had a huge dataset to work with.
Then he began making graphs, plotting individual Twitter accounts with numbers of Followers on one axis, and numbers of accounts they’re Following on the other.
The results are fascinating. For one thing, there’s just too much data to fit it all on a single graph in any meaningful way, so Weir created several graphs, each one “zooming out” on the data by a factor of ten.
All the graphs show a clear 45 degree line slanting upwards from bottom-left to top-right.
This is explained by two things: the automatic “follow people who follow me” feature, which encourages mutual following; and Twitter’s strict limits on how many people you can follow once you reach the basic cut-off of 2000 – something put in place to reduce spam.
There are also weird spikes of people who follow 100, 200 or 300 others – explained in the post’s comments as self-imposed limits put in place by many Twitter users who don’t want to get flooded with too much stuff.
As the graphs zoom further out, we get a birds-eye view of the shape of Twitter, and Weir draws some interesting conclusions about the nature of the Twitter network. Read his full post here.