U.S. Religious Landscape on Twitter

Religiosity is a powerful force shaping human societies, affecting domains as diverse as economic growth or the ability to cope with illness. As more religious leaders and organizations as well as believers start using social networking sites (e.g., Twitter, Facebook), online activities become important extensions to traditional religious rituals and practices. However, there has been lack of research on religiosity in online social networks. This paper takes a step toward the understanding of several important aspects of religiosity on Twitter, based on the analysis of more than 250k U.S. users who self-declared their religions/belief, including Atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Specifically, (i) we examine the correlation of geographic distribution of religious people between Twitter and offline surveys. (ii) We analyze users’ tweets and networks to identify discriminative features of each religious group, and explore supervised methods to identify believers of different religions. (iii) We study the linkage preference of different religious groups, and observe a strong preference of Twitter users connecting to others sharing the same religion.