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5/2/15 Cover


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Early advantages pay off in public opinion on Twitter

Twitter data show that having a slight advantage early in the formation of public opinion can be beneficial even though the state of the opinions level off over time.

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On Twitter, public opinion about a product, person or idea develops quickly and then levels off. One opinion can dominate and stay in the lead usually through the support of bigger and bigger groups.

As a result, in the early stages of opinion forming, small advantages are beneficial because they can then turn into much bigger gains as public opinion evolves, researchers report March 11 in Chaos. Users are also less likely to admit changes to their own opinions, preferring to work to change the opinions of others, the scientists say. The results may shape the way companies and political candidates use social media to release products and start campaigns.

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