On 28.02.2019 an article with the title „Who tweets on the EU Copyright Directive“ was published on this blog.
The article looked at the regional origin, so-called geoloca, of tweets with mentions of certain hashtags.
The database was based on figures from the professional service Talkwalker. The extract of the figures from Talkwalker was made to the best of our ability. Extensive tests with very different Hashtags were carried out (also from those which were not discussed in the article) and the numbers from Talkwalker seemed quite plausible.
On the basis of the Talkwalker data, a presentation followed according to hashtags and countries in relation to Europe and the USA and within the USA according to selected countries. It was noticeable that according to the Talkwalker data an unusually high Twitter activity was found in the USA and there in Washington, D.C. for the hashtags examined.
In the article it was stated that there is no logical explanation for this and the thesis was put forward that apparently the USA is exerting massive influence on the discussion of the EU copyright reform on Twitter.
On March 1st 2019 the German online site Übermedien asked us to comment on the statement of a data analyst that the figures of Talkwalker were not correct regarding the Geoloca.
After some of the analyst’s arguments seemed understandable, we asked Talkwalker how the Geoloca figures came about and how reliable they are. We then took the article offline in both languages in order to be able to examine the facts again in detail.
Our inquiry to Talkwalker has not yet been answered. However, Talkwalker replied to over media, which apparently had asked Talkwalker for their part and published the answer on March 4th 2019 in the afternoon.
From this it can be seen that Talkwalker will only clearly locate tweets geographically in the analysis if the sender of the Twitter app has allowed his whereabouts to be identified. Otherwise, other ways of identifying origin would have to be used, which would/could often lead to false identifications. In most of these cases, the origin of tweets would/could be deduced from the language used.
This would/could lead to tweets being located in English, but without a clear origin, in America and there in the capital Washington.
However, Talkwalker did not provide any information on the proportion of tweets whose origin is not clearly identifiable.
The higher the proportion of these tweets, the less clear conclusions can be drawn from the data.
As long as this is not clear, we must assume that the figures are not as meaningful as we thought.
In particular, statements on the prevalence of mentions in certain countries cannot be made reliably on this basis.
The part of the article dealing with the origin of mentions therefore no longer has a publication basis.
On the website of Talkwalker we could not find any information about the methodology of geographical location or hints about possible inaccuracies of the supplied data.
However, we regret very much that we did not notice the uncertain data situation despite numerous checks.
The part of the article that shows the development of the number of mentions per month still seems plausible on the basis of the data, because it is independent of the Geoloca. In the meantime, these have also been compared with figures from an alternative service.
The differences were minimal. If necessary, there will be a new article about these numbers as well as about the importance of influencers in the near future.
Volker Rieck / Jörg Weinrich
Volker Rieck is managing director of the content protection service provider File Defense Service (FDS), which works for numerous rights owners. The company also conducts studies on piracy and supports law enforcement agencies with its collected data. His articles occasionally appear on the FAZ, Tarnkappe.info, Webschauder and sporadically on the US blogs The Trichordist and Musictecploicy. This is always about the various aspects of unregulated content distribution.
Jörg Weinrich is managing director of the „Interessenverband des Video- und Medienfachhandels in Deutschland e.V.(IVD)“.