This visualization, put together by researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute, shows the origins of the entire globe’s tweets.
This graphic illustrates these data as a spatially aware treemap. The size of each block represents the number of tweets emanating from that country and the shading reveals in the number of geocoded tweets as a proportion of that country’s Internet population (i.e. it gives us a sense of how likely Internet users are to create geocoded Twitter content).
The graphic reveals a large amount of inequality in the geography of content. However, while many other online platforms and more offline knowledge sources are characterised by distinct digital divisions of labour in which the Global North is a predominant producer and subject of content, Twitter displays significantly different geographies.
The six largest countries in terms of information production through Twitter are: (1) the United States, (2) Brazil, (3) Indonesia, (4) the United Kingdom, (5) Mexico, and (6) Malaysia. It is interesting to note that only two of the countries on that list are in the Global North and are traditional hubs of the production of codified knowledge.
By mapping the distribution of tweets in the world it becomes apparent that Twitter is allowing for broader participation than is possible in most other platforms and media. In other words, it might be allowing for a ‘democratisation’ of information production and sharing because of its low barriers to entry and adaptability to mobile devices. Similarly barriers to the dissemination of information, such as censorship, are also visible through the small proportion of tweets originating in China (home to the largest population of internet users in the world).
However, more research is undoubtedly necessary to better understand the geography of content on the platform. The sample is limited, , because only 1% of all tweets are geocoded in the first place, and some countries may tend to geocode more than others.
As virtual layers and augmentations of place increasingly matter to everyday life, it will become more important to understand the geographies of information. This map offers a starting point.
See on www.oii.ox.ac.uk