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Analyzing and characterizing political discussions in WhatsApp public groups

04/02/2018
by   Josemar Alves Caetano, et al.
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We present a thorough characterization of what we believe to be the first significant analysis of the behavior of groups in WhatsApp in the scientific literature. Our characterization of over 270,000 messages and about 7,000 users spanning a 28-day period is done at three different layers. The message layer focuses on individual messages, each of which is the result of specific posts performed by a user. The user layer characterizes the user actions while interacting with a group. The group layer characterizes the aggregate message patterns of all users that participate in a group. We analyze 81 public groups in WhatsApp and classify them into two categories, political and non-political groups according to keywords associated with each group. Our contributions are two-fold. First, we introduce a framework and a number of metrics to characterize the behavior of communication groups in mobile messaging systems such as WhatsApp. Second, our analysis underscores a Zipf-like profile for user messages in political groups. Also, our analysis reveals that Whatsapp messages are multimedia, with a combination of different forms of content. Multimedia content (i.e., audio, image, and video) and emojis are present in 20 of all messages respectively. Political groups use more text messages than non-political groups. Second, we characterize novel features that represent the behavior of a public group, with multiple conversational turns between key members, with the participation of other members of the group.

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