The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Forecasting When Hashtags Will Go Viral

The structure of early sharing behavior is a good predictor of virality

2 min read
Forecasting When Hashtags Will Go Viral

Memes, like Rickrolling or LOLcats, are the invasive species of social network ecosystems such as Facebook and Twitter. “Viral hashtags are so interesting that even at first sight, you just start to use them,” says Yong-Yeol Ahn, assistant professor at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing. Ahn and his coauthors have isolated the network properties of memes and turned them into a forecasting tool, enabling the prediction of which Twitter hashtags will go viral nearly two out of three times based on how the hashtag is shared in its early stages. Ahn says later this spring they’ll be publishing follow-up research that looks at predicting just how big a splash a viral meme will make.

Circles represent communities—densely connected groups of users. Circle size represents the number of tweets with a given hashtag made per community. The color indicates when in the hashtag’s life span the most tweeting occurred in a community (darker is newer).

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

Keep Reading ↓Show less