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

Mike Thelwall, Olga Goriunova, Farida Vis, Simon Faulkner, Anne Burns, Jim Aulich, Amalia Mas-Bleda, Emma Stuart, Francesco D'Orazio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2575-2586
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number11
Early online date22 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2016

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