Tweets That Resonate: Information Flows and the Growth of Twitter's Universal Basic Income Discussion Space

Jeff Hemsley, Martha Garcia-Murillo, Ian P. MacInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Social media are an important space for people to discuss novel policy innovations. In particular, Twitter, whose user base is skewed toward those who disproportionately affect news coverage, and by extension the public agenda, represents a particularly useful platform for policy advocates wishing to grow their audience. This article extends theoretical understandings of information flows and the growth of networked discussion spaces by examining the online discussion space around a Universal Basic Income (UBI), which has been proposed to alleviate social tensions relating to joblessness resulting from technological advances. Using content analysis and statistical methods, we show that tweets in the UBI discussion space that inform others are the most likely to be shared, but tweets that emotionally resonate with users are the most likely to reach new audiences and therefore bring new actors into the discussion space. These findings contribute to the literature on viral events and dynamic networks, providing insight into how policies like UBI are discussed and diffuse on social media platforms like Twitter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-346
Number of pages23
JournalPolicy and Internet
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Twitter
  • Universal Basic Income
  • income inequality
  • information diffusion
  • information flows
  • policy adoption
  • policy innovation
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Administration
  • Health Policy
  • Computer Science Applications


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