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Chatting through pictures? A classification of images tweeted in one week in the UK and USA

Thelwall, Mike and Goriunova, Olga and Burns, A and Faulkner, Simon and Vis, Farida and Aulich, J and Mas-Bleda, A and Stuart, E and D'Orazio, F (2016) Chatting through pictures? A classification of images tweeted in one week in the UK and USA. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67 (11). pp. 2575-2586. ISSN 2330-1643

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Abstract

© 2015 ASIS & T. Twitter is used by a substantial minority of the populations of many countries to share short messages, sometimes including images. Nevertheless, despite some research into specific images, such as selfies, and a few news stories about specific tweeted photographs, little is known about the types of images that are routinely shared. In response, this article reports a content analysis of random samples of 800 images tweeted from the UK or USA during a week at the end of 2014. Although most images were photographs, a substantial minority were hybrid or layered image forms: phone screenshots, collages, captioned pictures, and pictures of text messages. About half were primarily of one or more people, including 10% that were selfies, but a wide variety of other things were also pictured. Some of the images were for advertising or to share a joke but in most cases the purpose of the tweet seemed to be to share the minutiae of daily lives, performing the function of chat or gossip, sometimes in innovative ways.

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