Twitter is cutting out the tabloids and taking celerity spats straight to the fans.
Celebrities enjoy tweet taste of revenge
You might think that it would be easy to tell how happy - or otherwise - someone is from what they post on Twitter. In a study published this month, researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland investigated how to analyse someone's Twitter feed to determine their levels of happiness. The researchers believe the study could help provide insight into the emotional well-being of the general public, and to test their theory they looked at the word patterns of 13 celebrity tweeters.
Of the 13 chosen celebrities, the basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, the cyclist Lance Armstrong and BBC presenter Jonathan Ross were rated the happiest tweeters. The rapper Snoop Dog was found to be the least happy among the group tested. The researchers used a computer programme called Emotext to analyse the language the celebrities used in their tweets, looking at words associated with emotions, and the context they are used in.
The study found that the most common emotions displayed in celebrity tweets were positive, with acceptance, happiness and anticipation heading the list. The most common negative emotions were anger, disgust and sadness. While some might question the usefulness of the research, the people behind the study say the aim is to demonstrate how the technology could be used to examine the links between people's emotional states and lifestyle issues such as drug abuse or obesity, and investigate how these problems could be tracked on social networking sites.
All very interesting, but for those more concerned with the emotional well-being of celebrities, Twitter is an indispensable tool. Since its birth in 2006, it has picked up more than 100 million users, with everyone from Barack Obama to Britney Spears tweeting. Ashton Kutcher, the American actor and the husband of the fellow tweeter Demi Moore, has the most followers, with almost five million people signed up to keep an eye on his daily musings.
But for every tweeter happily chatting to fans comes a rabble seemingly intent on parading their dysfunction. In a move that neatly cuts out the middle man (gossip magazines and websites) we are now able to witness the catfights and meltdowns of the stars as they happen. The latest duo to bash each other via 140 character rants are the former Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan and Courtney Love. Corgan, who previously claimed that Love's new album featured tracks he had written and were included without his permission, began the online feud.
Love, of course, is a veteran of Twitter controversy, and other recent sparring partners include Edward Norton, her ex-boyfriend, and Lily Allen. But she is far from the only celebrity prone to overshare. Last week, the former Westlife star Brian McFadden took issue with his ex-wife Kerry Katona's comments about how frequently he saw their daughters, and called her, among other things a "pig-faced mole" in a series of angry Tweets.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan has been continuing her Twitter-spat with her father Michael, who has angered the starlet with public comments, on Twitter and elsewhere, in which he alleges she was addicted to prescription medication. The latest outbreak of hostilities occurred when Michael went to his daughter's apartment with three police officers, saying he was concerned about the welfare of her 16-year-old sister Ali.
In a series of furious tweets, Lindsay referred to Michael as her "ex-dad", and called him a pathological liar. She wrote: "He has NEVER paid child support, and is marrying a tabloid writer and can barely spell his own name due to his 'brain' that has been ruined due to HIS drug use". What Emotext would make of all of this, one can only guess.